YOUR LETTERS


LA, Havering:

BUS ROUTE NEEDED FROM COLLIER ROW TO HAROLD HILL

I wondered if it is worth raising a question regarding a bus route, other than the 294 to go from Collier Row to Harold Hill. Currently the 294 takes over an hour to get from Collier Row to Harold Hill! It is a 10 minute drive if you have a car. There is a huge new housing estate being built on the site of Broxill and Whitworth Centres and it would be good if the people living there could also have a chance to shop in Collier Row as well as HH. Also, there is not a bus route that goes down Broxhill Road allowing easier access to the Park. Anyone without a car, is somewhat stuck with a long walk if they want to go to the Park and Visitor Centre. Not good if you are not that mobile!

There is now a Local Food Growing Community Project taking place in the old Georgian Walled Kitchen Garden in Bedfords Park and people will not be able to get there very easily either.

29.3.13


JP, Upminster

HOW CAN FEWER POLICE CORRELATE WITH LESS CRIME?

As the result of a 'Freedom of Information' request, we now know that there are 4,000 fewer Metropolitan Police Officers employed in London than in 2010. Our population has increased by many millions in a few years due to immigration. However, according to the Home Office, reported crimes continue to decrease (by 10 per cent last year).

Are we to believe, in spite of reduced Policing, that the crime rate is decreasing? Should we then presume that mass immigration assisted this annual reduction? Something does not ring true here.

15.12.12


BB Upminster

LET YOUR MP KNOW

I have recently emailed my MP to tell her how I felt about the "progress" of the present government. If you would like to email your MP go to http://www.writetothem.com/ to send them an email.


David Evans, Upminster

DARTFORD CROSSING DELAYS

Copy of letter sent by David to Highways Agency (1.8.12)

I am writing to you with regard the length of time now spent in traffic congestion at the Dartford Crossing. I travel between Upminster and Bromley in rush hour (7:30-9:00 am and 5:00-6:30).


In the month of July this was my hours sitting in traffic waiting to enter the Tunnel or Bridge.

WEEK 1 8.2 HOURS
WEEK 2 7.4 HOURS
WEEK 3 9.1 HOURS
WEEK 4 6.9 HOURS

Total 31 Hours 40 Mins


At no time was there an accident associated with these delays it was sheer weight of traffic at the toll booths.

Please can you explain to me why there has been a massive investment programme in making both sides of the crossing 4 lanes when there has been no consideration for the problems the Crossing is causing. Also I noted that you praised yourselves, on the building of the 4 lanes to the positive green issues. Might I suggest you pop down in rush and see the effects 5 miles of traffic has on air pollution in the surrounding area.


If I wanted to be cynical, I would think this is just about a revenue raising scheme with no thought for the public or anyone else. I hope I am wrong, and you have plans for a solution to this issue because its an absolute scandal .if you let this continue in this way, you will have wasted all this public money on this road widening in these times of hardship.

Response by Highways Agency (2.812)

Thank you for contacting the Highways Agency regarding congestion at the Dartford Crossing.  We at Connect Plus Services work on behalf of the HA to manage, operate and maintain the M25 and its linking roads as well as the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing.

We apologise for the delays you have experienced recently. We can fully appreciate how you feel at having to queue, with a total time spent in traffic being approximately 32 hours. The capacity for the Dartford Crossing is 135,000 vehicles per day. This has been exceeded on some days, with figures up to 160,000 vehicles.  The school holidays may have had a contributory factor in the increase of traffic on the network, as well as the Olympics.

You queried why there has been no consideration for the problems at the Dartford Crossing.

Planning is being carried out to introduce free-flow charging from October 2014 which provides the opportunity to re-design the physical road layout to improve the flow of traffic. This may see the removal of the current plaza barriers on the approach to the tunnels.  We are currently considering measures to provide the equivalent or improved protection to that currently provided to road users. This is in relation to incident and traffic management i.e. to support the escorting of hazardous and over height vehicles under free-flow conditions. The new charging option would also see the introduction of new payment methods for pre-registered users and the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to enable free-flow charging at the Crossing.

We recognise the need to ensure traffic is kept moving across the whole of the network during the Olympics and will do all we can to achieve this.

We are encouraging as many people as possible to plan their journey in advance using the following link:

http://www.highways.gov.uk/knowledge/34773.aspx

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

4.8.12


Clarence, Upminster:

AUDIT FAILURES

I thought that the failure of the EU accounts to be signed off for 17 consecutive years owing to error and omission must be some kind of record. Step forward the Department of Works and Pensions whose accounts have now not been signed off for 24 years running because of error and fraud in the benefits system. With an estimated £3.2 billion lost in overpayments in 2011/12 alone this is a scandal every bit as disturbing as bankers fixing interest rates.

15.7.12


BB Upminster

GRANNY TAX

If you are a pensioner, like my wife and I, and would like to make your
views known to your MP about the "Granny Tax" the following link lets
you send an email to your MP. http://www.writetothem.com/

23.3.12


MOR, Upminster:

TAXI RIDE TOO SHORT?

Last week I accompanied an 84 year old Lady to the London Probate office six weeks after the death of her husband. On returning to Upminster we asked the taxi driver to take us to Claremont Gardens . He told me it's only round the corner you can walk it. I insisted we wanted to go by taxi as the lady was not able to walk that far. On arriving at our destination he told me I was taking the p*** and the fare would not put bread on the table for his children. He said he was in the taxi rank since 8.00 in the morning and he had now lost his place. The time was now 12.30 mid-day and there were only 3 taxis in the queue.

I have asked a few friends if this kind of experience has happened to them and I was surprised that it has. What is the experience of other readers? Perhaps the taxi drivers who only want long journeys should park and wait for their fares round at the side entrance of Upminster?

22.3.12


Cllr Clarence Barrett:

PRAISE FOR POLICE AND PUBLIC SERVICES DUE

On behalf of the Residents' Association group, I must pay tribute to the many people and agencies who worked so hard in heading off any serious unrest in Havering last week.

Instead of unwarranted criticism, the police deserve our gratitude and admiration for their response to the unrest and for keeping a lid on any serious disorder in Havering.

In addition, council staff and the other emergency services were magnificent while  London 24 played an important role in dispelling the numerous untrue rumours flying around, many of which simply added fuel to an already volatile fire.

It was also reassuring to see the courts finally handing down sentences that reflected the seriousness of the offences. For too long the police do the all the hard work in investigating, arresting and charging offenders only for the courts, hamstrung by political interference, to hand down paltry sentences that simply undermine public confidence in the criminal justice system.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of our young people are law abiding, decent and hard working individuals, but In order to address the problems that culminated in the riots of last week, it requires more than one simple answer. There is a whole host of factors which demand a co-ordinated approach from our law enforcement agencies, probation services, social services, the courts and a multitude of relevant agencies. In addition, and perhaps above all, the need to reinforce social and moral values through the family environment is the ingredient we need most.

18.8.11


BB, Upminster:

RIOTS NEED FIRM ACTION

The situation we have in London and elsewhere is "Civil War". We cannot control the rioters with "consent"  The police are not strong enough to control this army of criminals. Bring in the army before the criminals take over the country. Perhaps Marshall Law should be declared to control this situation.


Those who are convicted of looting and criminal damage MUST be given long prison sentences to deter others.

If you wish to make your views known to your MP you can find how to contact them by clicking

http://democracy.havering.gov.uk/mgmemberindexmp.aspx?bcr=

To contact The Prime Minster's Office click

http://www.number10.gov.uk/contact-us/

9.8.11


SG, Upminster:

SEWER CHANGES KICK UP A STINK

Most Havering residents will have received the notification regarding the changeover of ownership of the sewers from 1st October this year.  At present I don't make any contribution to my sewers if there is a problem as I live in a house which was built pre 1937.Having read the information I noticed there was no mention of how this would affect me in future and I contacted Thames Water for an answer.  I was informed that it was not mentioned in the literature as there was no change for me and I would continue to be exempt from any payment except the small increase in the charge between £3-£14 per year. Now being a bit of a cynic I take this to mean that 'we won't put it in the literature in the hope that those with pre-1937 properties won't realise they are exempt and will then pay for any problems on their properties themselves!' I thought I would bring this to the residents attention.

7.8.11


JP, Upminster:

OLYMPIC LEVY UNFAIR?

I must confess that my wife and I have little or no interest in the forthcoming Olympic Games. However, we are fully aware that we are obliged to subsidise them via our (exorbitant) Council Tax.

We know that many thousands of Londoners have been unable to obtain tickets and yet 9,000 will be provided to civil servants and politicians for 'corporate hospitality'. Another 2,400 tickets will be made available for 'dignitaries' of towns and cities which host teams and events! This is in spite of the fact that their towns and cities have not provided the same, if any, obligatory tax that we Londoners have been forced to cough up.

We believe that in this case, as in many others, Londoners are being treated as the milch-cows for the entire nation.

We have forgotten how much additional Council Tax that we will have to pay for the Games that we have no desire to attend. Will you please enlighten us as to the cost per Upminster/Havering household?

Editor: The 2012 Olympics will cost around £9.3bn and the total bill for London council tax payers is £625m -  with Havering picking up around £21m of that sum. The Olympic levy, introduced in 2006/07, is £20 per year (based on a Band D property) and payable until 2017.  

While the Games will be a great boost to the UK, I have always maintained that the Olympic Levy should be shared across the country rather than just London. For example, is it fair that Havering residents pay the levy when Brentwood residents do not - considering the impact on each council would be virtually the same?


SR, Havering:

BANK HOLIDAY PARKING TICKET TRAP

I have recently noticed a large increase in parking enforcement wardens especially on bank holidays. I was always under the impression that bank holidays were classed as Sundays and 20 years of experience have confirmed this belief. So, a lot of people living in our road (myself included) were more than a little upset to receive parking tickets with a £110 fine on the recent spring bank holiday on Monday 30th May.

UKMotorist.com ("Your legal guide to motoring") states the following on Controlled Parking Zones. "Its main aim is to discourage commuter and long stay parking by people from outside the area." Well, on the day in question commuting was unlikely as not only was it a bank holiday, but also there were no trains running at the nearby station (bus replacement services were in clear evidence, another pet peeve but that's another story).

The cynic in me questions the "main aim" described above above and draws the obvious conclusion that a couple of hours paid overtime for the warden brings in many thousands of pounds in fines from unsuspecting victims. The fact that these victims are law abiding people parking outside their own homes or visiting friends on a national holiday does not deter the bureaucratic hard-heads in charge from reaping what they might term "low hanging fruit". But it does nothing to improve the parking situation in the area, or the public opinion of the local authorities. It is nothing short of exploitation, and I am ashamed to live in a borough where this is considered acceptable.

So I would appreciate it if you could warn your readers that bank holidays are normal working days as far as parking wardens are concerned (yet, oddly there are no staff to answer the phone in Parking Services on these days). Clearly, council workers are fearing a substantial backlash as the telephone line is now deactivated, with a recorded message explaining that staff are being trained - presumably on how to rip off more vulnerable victims. Christmas day should be a nice little earner.

31.5.11

Editor: I agree totally and we will do all we can to publicise this in the future. This issue has been brought up many times and last week it formed an official question to council (see below).

15    PARKING RESTRICTIONS ON PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: ENFORCEMENT

To the Leader of the Council (Councillor Michael White)

By Jeffrey Tucker

There are all day Monday to Saturday parking restrictions outside the Rainham Village shops. However a Rainham resident who parked outside the shops on Bank Holiday Monday May 2nd was outraged when he received a parking ticket for doing so, because he thought Sunday rules applied on Bank Holidays. He paid the fine but felt morally cheated.
How many parking tickets were issued on Bank Holiday Monday 25th & Bank Holiday Friday 29th April and do you think penalising unsuspecting motorists on quiet days in our smaller shopping centres is a good policy?

Answer:

Traffic and Parking Control issued 109 Penalty Charge Notices on 29th April 2011 and 142 on 2nd May 2011.

Parking restrictions are by default and active 24 hours seven days a week unless signs inform otherwise.

Parking issues are present in many areas on all days and so the importance of enforcement in keeping congestion to a minimum, and maximising safety is ever present.  It is not unreasonable to expect motorists to park legally and safely on all days, including Bank Holidays and / or Public Holidays

Traffic and Parking Control aim to ensure our roads are safe, traffic flows freely and our Civil Enforcement Officers enforce using common sense.


A resident of Upminster:

EVERY PENNY COUNTS FOR THAMES CHASE!

We are lucky to have these beautiful places near us and Thames Chase caters for young and old alike.  I take my grandchildren to use the amenities and walk my dog through the lovely woodland and am happy to pay £1.00 for that privilege.

Not so for a good few using this park.  We regularly notice cars pulling up and completely ignoring the strategically placed sign PAY AND DISPLAY.

I am prompted to write and remind people that these beautiful places do not maintain themselves without the money generated by car parks and events and we will lose them.

The selfish few  who use these facilities and don't pay and display are ruining the future survival... AND THAT MEANS YOU  - YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!

1.5.11

Editor: I couldn't agree more. Thames Chase is now trying to deal with a very challenging financial situation and every penny counts. If any visitor can't pay £1 to park in such a marvellous facility then they should hang their heads in shame.


AH, Upminster

PIZZA WARS!

Have you or anyone else noticed the local war in Havering which is being battled out across Upminster between rival pizza establishments? There have been a number of people recently positioning themselves in various prominent locations around the town, not only displaying placards relating to offers, but also dressed in an array of costumes. I have seen Superman at the main traffic light junction and even Bart Simpson has appeared at the mini roundabout at Hall Lane and Avon Road , these guys hold placards to draw your attention to pizza offers available at Dominos & Papa Johns who are at present trying to outbid each other with a price war.


This may seem to be innocent enough but this form of advertising can be distracting for drivers whose attention can be momentarily taken way from their driving whilst taken a second look at who these characters are and what they are doing. The other day 'Bart Simpson' was pointing at his board if he caught the attention of the drivers, which is a distraction in itself.

More importantly these guys are standing in the same spot all day long, sometimes for 8-10 hours this surely must be a breach of their human rights. They stand in all weather conditions, and although the weather is warmer now I have seen them in the past stand all day in the freezing cold. This surely cannot be fair on them, I do think that this matter needs to be addressed for the safety of drivers and the welfare of the guys being used by their employers.

Your thoughts on this matter would be appreciated.

30.3.11

Editor: Yes, I have certainly noticed these characters. I raised this with the council back in November and was advised that mobile advertising boards are not illegal under advertising regulations and therefore the Council has no powers with which to enforce against them.

This has been going on for quite a while and, while it's not a new concept, I do wonder if it has any effect at all. The people who do this are exposed to the elements and I did feel sorry for them when the weather was particularly cold.

The idea of dressing up as characters to advertise is commonplace in America and has been going on here for some time. The very fact that it attracts your attention is serving the purpose, but this will only be meaningful if you buy a pizza from them! Whether it's Dominio's or Papa Johns, I suspect the ‘Pizza war' will continue for a while yet but is something I would not like to see catch on!


CB, Upminster

£10 XMAS BONUS IN THE SHADE

While the level of City bonuses causes much consternation across the political divide, little is ever mentioned about that other seasonal bonanza known as the pensioners Christmas bonus. This payment, which has stayed at £10 since its launch nearly 40 years ago, was actually worth more than the weekly £6.75 basic state pension when it was introduced in 1972. The basic pension is now £97.65 per week and that £10, if it were inflated, would be worth around £100 today. Notwithstanding the current bleak economic state of affairs, if this bonus is to remain then it should increase in line with inflation or be rolled into the basic pension where, at least, it will benefit from indexation.

21.12.10


JP, Upminster:

5th NOVEMBER FIRE STRIKE RECKLESS

I was shocked to hear that bonfire night had been chosen by the Fire Brigade Union to flex its muscles by striking and am therefore relieved that it has since been called off. It would have been a reckless action had it proceeded.

Having received my copy of 'Living' earlier in the week, I was surprised that this threatened strike had not been deemed to be worthy as front page news. Indeed, it only received a small mention on page 12 within an article about the dangers of bonfires and fireworks. Surely such a dangerous scenario deserved highlighting for the benefit of the public in this Borough.

5.11.10


AA, Upminster:

A SIGN OF THE TIMES?

A few weeks ago, my husband took our 3 year old Grandson to the local Upminster park. Whilst he was sitting there watching him play on the swings, he was approached by a woman who asked him what he was doing there and was he alone or with a child.

At first my husband told her he was with our Grandson, and then after she had walked away became aware of her unspoken accusation. He was most upset about this and feels that men are being unfairly targeted just for being a male sitting in the park.

I have since approached the Upminster police about this and have been told, that he is entitled to sit anywhere without encumbrance to himself and that the public park is just that. Had the woman actually made an accusation at the time then she would have had to prove this herself.

The point I am making is that no one should assume that because a man is either with a child or on his own, that this gives them carte blanche to make contact in this way. I know that in this society, we are now guilty until proven innocent, and that all men are suspects, but it is all taken too far.

Please make other people aware of the damage these types of remarks make, so they can think before taking any action.

7.9.10


JD, Cranham:

SHAMEFUL TORY CLAIMS

The letter from the conservative 'action' team regarding the Avon road shops is shameful propaganda. To claim some kind of victory in the decision about the proposed development at Avon road is disgraceful, given it was the democratically elected Residents Association that co-ordinated the action and the meetings in the local community to lobby against this development. You do not represent the views of the Cranham community and to try to make some claim on this is simply low. I hope that our residents association councillors will take great pride in the work that they did to prevent this unwelcome development and you, conservatives, can lay claim to none of it.

Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham:

TOLL BARRIERS TO BE LIFTED?

It was recently announced that the Highways Agency are willing to consider raising the barriers at the Dartford Crossing during busy times to ease severe traffic delays.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mike Penning, said the Agency is willing to consider the possibility of lifting the barriers when congestion is particularly severe. Quite when congestion is deemed to be severe (which is most of the time!) or not is a moot point and would, of course, impact upon the thousands of motorists of whom some would pay a ‘toll' and some would not.

This is a somewhat different approach from the previous government who, in response to my 10,000 petition to scrap the toll in 2009, insisted that the toll barriers were needed to manage congestion!

The fact remains that the cost of the crossing was paid off in 2002 and since that time the ‘toll' has been reclassified as a ‘congestion charge'. It is indeed bizarre that it is the collection of the ‘congestion charge' that is the principal cause of the congestion!

In a move designed to hang on to the £50m of net receipts from the crossing, the Government are also looking at licence plate recognition technology (similar to the London Congestion Charge) for the collection of the ‘toll'. While any measure to relieve the congestion, pollution and delays at the crossing is welcome, the ultimate aim must be to scrap the ‘tolls' entirely and allow traffic to move freely through the crossing.

26.7.10


John Phillips, Upminster:

OUR HERITAGE AT RISK?

The serious fire damage to the Victorian Boyd school in Cranham (13.6.10) puts at risk the future of a valuable historic local building.

English Heritage stated in 2007 that it has "strong local significance as a record of privately funded education in this area." I strongly believe the building should be preserved as it is a very important reminder to this and future generations of what has been accomplished within and for the local community."

15.6.10


G. Humber, Rainham:

WHY NO DISCOUNT ON 2012 OLYMPIC TICKETS?

I have just read on your website that we won't get any preferential treatment in the cost and allocation of tickets for the 2012.

Having paid extra in my council tax for the last couple of years and for many more years to come I think this is a disgrace. Nobody asked me if I wanted to makes this contribution, but the least we could expect is to have some kind of discount on the tickets.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Games but cannot help thinking that £21m is a massive bill for Havering with not alot to show for it.

27.3.10


Lois Amos, Upminster:

GIVE DAFFS A CHANCE!

I just wanted to point out also that the reason why so many daffodils go missing, or don't flower ( known as going blind) is because they are often indiscriminately mown before the foliage has had a chance to die back and give up its nutrients into the bulb ready for growing and flowering next spring .  

Foliage needs to be left for at least 6 weeks , and preferably 8 weeks, but because it tends to look untidy, and there are mowing regimes in place with the contractors etc. the grass gets mown before the bulbs natural cycle has been completed.   It is difficult  and time consuming to leave  small unmown grass 'islands' protecting bulbs in situ when you are using a heavy ride on machine!   However, it can be done if the operatives are knowledgeable, patient and considerate to the flowers!    Daffodils will bloom continually for many years if treated properly after flowering, and it is a great pity that all the money spent on bulbs often is not of benefit for years to come.

I must say that the green area covered with bulbs by the turn off for Upminster on the A127, is usually mown very considerately and carefully and always looks good.   So justified praise for the contractors there!   Sadly other parts of the Borough are not so fortunate.

19.3.10


CRANHAM 'AUSSIE' SEEKS OLD PALS

My name is Marion Tilby (nee Newberry). I used to live in Ashvale Gardens , Cranham and went to Oglethorpe School from 1955 until July 1961.

I have lived in Australia since 1972, but am coming back to England , with my husband, for a visit in June this year and hope to look up some old friends and old haunts.

I would love to meet up with anyone from my year in Oglethorpe who remembers me. I have already got in touch with a few of my friends from those days.

I also used to go to All Saints Church Land Rangers, so would be pleased to see anyone who used to go there at the same time as me or anyone from Ashvale Gardens who remembers me. I lived at No 39 from 1950 – 1970.

I will be in the Cranham area on Saturday 19 th June, so am arranging an informal lunch time get-together on that date.

If you remember me and would like to meet up and share some memories, please email me at tilbydm@bigpond.net.au

I look forward to hearing from you.

17.2.10


BB, Upminster:

WHAT A SURPRISE!

”Council Tax to be reduced by 0.5% this coming year”. Could it be  local elections this year? If the Conservative Party wants me to vote for them I need a much larger "bribe" than a 0.5% reduction in my Council Tax. I might consider 10%. Are other people as cynical as I am?

8.2.10


JJ, Harold Wood:

HOSPITAL PARKING & SNOW CLEARANCE

I just received the latest copy of "The Bulletin", which as usual provides the news the council propaganda sheet misses.

I would like to comment on a couple of items mentioned, first hospital parking.

While I sympathise with those who think that having to pay to visit a hospital is an unfair tax on the sick and their relatives, I feel I must point out the problems with free parking on public sites. I have worked in the NHS in various roles for many years, and when I started at Harold Wood Hospital parking was free for staff and visitors. The car parks got progressively more crowded until there happened to be a rail strike and suddenly the car parks were virtually empty. The implication was obvious, a significant number of commuters were parking all day for free in the hospital car parks, filling them by 9:00am, and catching a train into the Cit

The hospital authorities then started having a "check point" at the gate and turned away these free loaders and ultimately introduced parking charges and staff permits as a permanent discouragement. Though Queen's Hospital is not as handy for the station in Romford, I'm sure a similar situation would quickly arise, as the savings on season tickets from Brentwood, Shenfield and beyond are considerable

It's also worth remembering that parking space is limited at Queen's, by the planning permission, forcing a great number of staff (who are not deemed vital enough to qualify for a staff parking permit, which they pay for annually) to either pay in the public car parks or pay in the ice rink or Homebase (both these places have a nice sideline in parking season tickets or hospital staff).

So, while in an ideal world parking in hospitals would be free, it's not quite a simple as that. With the unrestricted parking the places would fill with staff and commuters before most patients or visitors. Oddly St. George's Hospital in Hornchurch does not seem to suffer, despite it's proximity to the tube station, though I know the grounds are regularly patrolled.

My second point was on the clearing of snow and ice on public rights of way outside properties. Again it's a nice idea, but during the recent cold spell I have heard various (and conflicting) stories about the liability of home-owners in these circumstances. I, and I'm sure others, would be grateful for a definitive answer to the question, is a home-owner is liable for injuries suffered by a person falling on a cleared area of footpath? Until that matter is resolved, I'm sure a lot of folk will be unwilling to risk considerable costs and trouble and leave paths uncleared.

1.2.10

Editor: On the snow clearance issue, I think that there needs to be a high degree of negligence or malicious intent for any legal action to be taken against someone clearing snow/ice away from the front of their properties. The following link is useful on this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8443745.stm


JP, Emerson Park:

TORY INACTION TEAM

Will the Conservative Action Team be promoting my current Tory MP who, according to the Daily Telegraph, claimed £3,100 for the redecoration of her flat, £6,350 for a new bathroom and £804 for a new TV, Microwave and Fridge even though she also has a family home in Essex. My son lives further away in Southend and yet travels every day to and from the City, works long hours for less pay and infinitely shorter holidays.

I sincerely hope that a "Team member" knocks at my door prior to the May 5th Election and that they will appreciate the disgust that I shall vent forth because I believe that any ride on the MP's gravy train was not for free and that the ticket price has yet to be paid.

27.1.10


Peter Kemp, Cranham:

CONSERVATIVE INACTION TEAM

I've just seen a leaflet from the Cranham ward Conservatives, who call themselves “Your Action Team”.

Until now, I'd never heard of them, so I had a quick skim through their literature to see what they're offering the residents of Cranham, but the only thing that really stood out was a below-the-belt dig at the local Residents' Association.

The name of one of the team seemed familiar to me, that of Jackie Long. Would this be the same Jackie Long that stood as a Residents' Association candidate in Emerson Park at the last local election? So, she's changed her allegiance this time round has she? Interesting!

I've only lived in Cranham for three years, having moved here from Emerson Park, but during that time I've been very impressed with how hard the Residents' Association councillors work for the whole community of Cranham.

Beware, Cranham Conservative Action Team, if slating the RA is part of your campaign, you won't do yourselves any favours when it comes to the vote. The electorate can see through petty jibes and childish behaviour, there's enough of that in politics at a national level. At a local level, we want councillors with a positive message and in my book that's the RA.

23.1.10

Editor: The question is where have this ‘inaction' team been for the last four years? Why is it now, just before an election, that they have decided to do anything at all? The answer is very simple – they have done nothing for the community before and will continue to do nothing for the community after the election. It will be interesting to see how many ‘Conservative Inaction Team' leaflets will be delivered once the elections are over! As Mr Kemp points out, residents are wise enough to see right through this façade.


JC, Upminster:

COUNCIL TAX DIRECT DEBIT CONFUSION

In these days when we are being advised to check our bank accounts regularly in case of fraud it would be helpful if our Council could assist rather than hinder us.

Before Christmas we noticed a direct debit had been set up on our bank account with the name 'London Borough of Havering'.  We phoned the bank and they advised us to speak to the Council Offices and gave us the number and reference.  On ringing the Council Accounts Department we were told they had no record of setting up a new direct debit and the one that had been in place for 16 years was working normally with no problems.  I therefore cancelled the new direct debit and wrote to my bank and copied the Council in telling them that I had cancelled the direct debit.  I had an email from the Council confirming this had been noted and was in order.

On 15 January we received a letter from the Council telling us a new direct debit had been set up because of a change in their 'Originator Identification Number'.  Surely this letter should have been sent before the direct debit was set up and not three weeks afterwards.  This has caused a lot of inconvenience and worry as we thought a fraud was taking place on our bank account.  We also now have to go through the trouble of setting the direct debit up again with the bank and the Council.

In their letter of 15 January they asked us not to cancel the direct debit instruction, it would have been a good idea to let the front line in the Accounts Department know what was happening.

Another example of how the Council doesn't do joined up thinking.  We just wanted to bring this to your attention as presumably we can't be the only Havering residents to be inconvenienced by this.

19.1.10

Editor: If any readers have had a similar experience please let me know at cllrclarencebarrett@yahoo.co.uk


Ian Fifield, Cranham:

TRUE GRIT

Given the current weather, all will be aware of the dangerous conditions of the pavements, especially on side roads. I quite understand that it is not practical for the council to grit all of these, but I think that all able bodied people could do their bit by clearing the area outside of their property, and even offering this service to less able neighbours.

However, I remember a few years back a rumour that it was possible to be sued if anyone injured themselves on public footpaths if they had been treated by a well meaning resident. This has been relayed to me by a number of my friends as a good reason to do nothing. I think this is probably one of those “elf and safety” myths, but do not know for sure.

 It would be great if our Resident's Association could give us all some clarification on this, and maybe lead a campaign in the newsletter to bring back a sense of all of us “doing our bit” rather than moaning that the council is ineffective.

8.1.10

Editor: It is interesting that in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and some states in America, it is a legal obligation to keep the pavement outside your property clear from ice and snow. However, in the UK it is the Local Authorities who are legally responsible for gritting and salting public roads and pavements.

 In theory, there is indeed a risk of legal action under the part of law known as ‘tort of nuisance' if householders sweep away snow in such a way that it causes injury to someone. However, there would need to be provable malicious intent or a high degree of carelessness.


MS, Upminster

ICY FOOTPATHS TREACHEROUS

I am writing this during the aftermath of the recent snowstorm that has hit this borough, as well as most of the country, and beyond.

I must congratulate the StreetCare team for the way in which the main roads have been gritted, and kept clear.  This is especially important so that the emergency, and other public services, can operate during this spell of bad weather.  Important too is the reliability of the deliveries to the various shops and supermarkets, especially those selling food and perishables.

  However, the side roads are another question altogether. 

Now, I see that many folk cannot walk the footpaths, or cross the mirror-like roads, for fear of slipping.  I have witnessed many a person set out to the local shops, only to turn back because of their uncertain footing.  Indeed, I have fallen three times already on the glassy surface, and only within a few tens of yards from my home.  On one occasion I was actually helped to stand by an elderly lady who lent me her zimmer frame as a support.

When I was a lad and living in Dagenham, it was common to have a bin of sand/salt at each road junction as well as in strategic points on long stretches of road.  This was spread over the footpaths, and on road corners, during icy weather such as we are now having. 

In these cold times, cannot the council serve the populace in a similar way, or at least deliver grit so that householders can make-safe the patch of footpath outside their boundaries?

Now, I cannot even get to an outlet where I can purchase a sack of road salt, simply because of the black ice.

I am sure that many people take to their cars to make very short journeys simply to avoid the risk of falling, after all, a car cannot tumble although it may slide.

21.12.09


J. Ross, Rainham:

WHO PAYS BBC SALARIES?

I read with interest the assertion of the director of BBC people (paid £320,000 pa) that the level of executive salaries should not be decided by public opinion. Perhaps she has forgotten that it is the public who are paying the salaries through TV licence fees?

21.11.09


BB, Upminster

LET'S HAVE SAY ON EUROPE

If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified before the next election why can we not have a referendum on coming out of the EU? That is what many people seem to want.

5.10.09


JP, Upminster

POLICE HATS NEEDED?

I have witnessed several incidents in this Borough when Police Officers have been dealing with major incidents, such as serious accidents, and yet none have worn headgear. Surely their distinctive headgear assists the public to differentiate them from security guards etc. and helps to impose their authority at such scenes. I understand that it used to be a disciplinary offence for Police Officers not to wear headgear when out of their vehicles but then, in view of the current economic climate, perhaps the Metropolitan Police is economising by not supplying this uniform item any longer.

24.9.09


CM, Cranham:

MR FOX LIKES RUBBISH

The article on foxes I found very informative. However it is a shame people have been in the habit of disposing of waste food in the refuse bags. Had they not done so, foxes would not have been so "domesticated" and scavenged around the bags in the first place. There was a particular problem in Heron Way which now seems to have been resolved by residents waiting until the morning before putting out the bags. However they have to be put out by 7.30am to be certain to catch the disposal vehicle. Whilst this may not cause a problem for some residents there may be those who object to having to get up so early to do this! 

12.9.09


AE, Upminster:

PARK FARM ROAD VICTORY!

Well done Residents' Association in the successful outcome of the above!  Keep up all your hard work on protecting our precious green belt land.

 18.8.09

Editor: There was a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people to make sure this campaign was successful. It is a fundamental commitment of the Residents' Association that we protect our green and open spaces from development. We have been successful on this issue and we are ready to fight again when the next challenge comes along.


SR, Essex:

DARTFORD CROSSING MISERY

Just found your Havering Resident's Association Web page concerning the delays at the Dartford Bridge. I was delayed Southbound at the Dartford Bridge for 1 hr on Friday 14th August 2009, caused entirely by queuing up for tolls. The Northbound queues were far worse. The time delays and loss of business to Industry must far exceed the tolls collected. The frustration to drivers is beyond measure. The obvious solution is to scrap the tolls altogether or to simply open the barriers when the traffic exceeds a certain density.

18.8.09

Editor: Totally agree SR. The toll is now called a congestion charge – a self fulfilling description if ever I heard one!


VB, Cranham:

TRAFFIC OFFENCES GOING UNPUNISHED

In response to JP of Upminster, earlier this year the whole of the Metropolitan Police Area was designated a civil enforcement area with regard to certain moving traffic offences.

In effect, this means that the police (including the local police and the dedicated traffic police) can no longer enforce many moving traffic offences including such things as drivers ignoring a lot of the traffic signs, e.g. no u-turn, no right or left turn and many others.  They have also had the power taken away from them for dealing with parents who park on the yellow zig-zag lines outside the entrances to schools during the beginning and end of the school day and drivers who stop illegally in yellow box junctions.

Many London boroughs have already put into place civil enforcement officers or are using Smart cars with cameras to deal with such offences.

I have no idea of the situation in Havering.  Maybe someone knows what Havering are doing about this.  If nothing is yet in place in this borough, then it will be a free-for-all on the roads and you will see many more moving traffic offences being committed without fear of prosecution.

21.7.09


JP, Upminster:

USE CCTV FOR TRAFFIC OFFENDERS

Further to the letter from VB of Cranham regarding the traffic congestion at Upminster, I suggest that CCTV cameras might prove to be the solution to this problem as well as being a crime deterrent.

From personal observations it is evident to me that many motorists do not abide by the (red) Traffic Lights at the junction and continue to add to the blockage by their wilful law-breaking.

Gone are the days when a visual Police presence would have deterred this because there appears to be little in Upminster. Is it no longer within their remit to deal with traffic problems even though there is a Police Office close to the junction?

This is not the case in other parts of London where there are Traffic Response Teams whose raison-d'etre is to react to such information provided by CCTV cameras.

Such cameras  might also help to identify the large number of motorists who use their mobile 'phones whilst driving through said junction. I presume that they are 'phoning their loved ones to inform them that they are caught in a traffic jam!

 20.7.09


RP, Upminster:

MOOR LANE PUBLIC MEETING

I attended the public meeting at Moor Lane church hall on Thursday evening. I was shocked to learn of the proposed development at the north end of Moor Lane. It is heartening that the Residents' Association has been so active in raising this issue. I am thankful to all those who have worked to oppose this plan.

24.5.09


Cllr Clarence Barrett (Cranham RA):

COUNTING THE COST OF ASSESSMENT

As published in LGA ‘first' magazine (8.5.09)

Inspections and assessments has become an integral part of local government, but is it really providing value for money or is it costing the taxpayer a fortune?

While I accept that targeted and specific inspections are necessary, the huge amount of resources required by central government to create a system of all-embracing assessments, matched by the similarly huge amount of resources to respond to such assessments, has created a multi-million pound industry full of advisors, inspectors and consultants.

While value for money is quite rightly a key driver for local government efficiency, has anyone actually calculated the enormous cost of the ‘assessment and inspection' culture, both in terms of those who assess and those who comply? Furthermore, is it actually costing the taxpayer more than it is saving?

Star ratings, league tables and direction of traffic may mean something to those in the public sector, but for the vast majority of the general public the terms mean very little. It is a real concern that accountability appears to have shifted away from the electorate towards government inspired inspections and associated targets.

When a new regime of inspections and assessments comes along we so often say ‘how'? Perhaps it is time to say ‘why'?

11.5.09


VB, Cranham:

UPMINSTER TRAFFIC CRUNCH

Upminster seems to have turned into an area of compulsive moaners and two things appear to be top of the “moan list”.

One is the traffic congestion in the centre of Upminster. Well, if you are one of the motorists who sit in your car, caught in the queues, then you are part of the problem. You are adding to the congestion. So, if all those drivers who complain that traffic crawls through Upminster at peak times, were to leave their cars at home and take public transport, or plan their journey outside peak times, the problem would decrease. But of course, that won't happen and the hold-ups will continue.

And as for the ludicrous suggestion in the April edition of The Bulletin, that the traffic lights at the Bell Corner should be replaced by a mini-roundabout, this would cause chaos at such a large junction, as traffic would still have to queue to use it, especially as so many motorists don't use roundabouts properly.

Look at the tailbacks at the mini-roundabout at Wantz Bridge , Cranham, during peak times and that is a very small junction compared to the Bell Corner in Upminster. In the mornings I've seen traffic queued up in Front Lane, practically back to Cranham Village , waiting to get into St Mary's Lane.

A mini-roundabout in Upminster would cause far longer tailbacks than the traffic lights and therefore, there would be far more pollution and more moaning.

The second moan I've noticed, is about the crossing outside the M & S store in Station Road , Upminster. Just to correct the person who said in April's Bulletin that it used to be a Panda crossing, there is no such thing as a Panda crossing. It used to be a Pelican crossing.

It has now been updated to a Puffin Crossing, which actually (if working properly) should keep traffic flowing better than a Pelican or an old fashioned Zebra crossing.

A crossing is obviously needed in Station Road , given the amount of people who use it. To remove it would be foolish in the extreme and would most certainly result in a pedestrian being involved in an accident whilst trying to dodge the traffic to get across this busy road.

All those who moan about slow moving traffic should stop and think. If you are using your car, you are part of the problem. There is traffic congestion everywhere. Getting through Hornchurch during peak times is a long, slow process, likewise Roneo Corner, the A127, the A12 and most other places nationwide.

It is a symptom of the times. Car ownership has never been so high, with many families having two or more cars and it will continue to increase. I cannot see a solution to this problem as people are not willing to give up travelling by car, myself included, but then, I'm not moaning.

2.4.09


VB, Cranham:

KEEP FIGHTING THE TOLL!

I have read the lame reply to the Dartford Crossing petition. Last Friday evening we went down to the Kent coast quite late in the evening. As we approached the crossing we realised that as it was 10.30 pm we would be able to cross for free and we thought the barriers would be raised and it would be quicker.

No such luck! The barriers were down and lifted as each car approached and then closed again. Apparently this is so that the amount of traffic can be counted, but surely they could fit sensors that do that? So the crossing was no quicker.

We've got a Dart Tag and to go through the barriers using this is not much quicker than using the booths where you throw the right fee into the receptacle or hand one of the attendants the correct money.

So I would say that neither the period during the night when it is free, or the use of a Dart Tag does anything to ease congestion or cut down on the amount of pollution.

Carry on with the good fight!

31.3.09


Chris Lennon, Upminster:

OLYMPIC LEVY SHOULD BE A NATIONAL LEVY

I must say that I wholeheartedly agree with GK of Harold Wood.  We are paying two fold for inferior services provided by Havering.  I would add that a mere proportion of what the Government has used to bail out the banks would pay for the Olympics.  The Olympics should be paid for by the nation not London.

Pensioners must not be used to subsidise Government and Local Government failures.

The Olympic Committee should be subject to careful audit by independent accountants.

24.3.09


Chris Lennon, Upminster:

HOW ABOUT SAFE PAVEMENTS?

I have just seen the local council in their ‘Living' newspaper pictured picking up an award for making Romford safe at night.  How about they make the streets of Cranham safe for the elderly and infirm at all times?  The elderly and infirm find it safer to walk in the road than on the pavements around Canterbury Avenue!

In the seven years I have been here, there has been no maintenance to the slabs which in places protrude by over an inch.  It is only a matter of time when someone falls over these slabs and is seriously injured.

I have had the experience of three London Boroughs and Havering is by far the worst after Newham and Redbridge

The Council tax is exorbitant enough and we see little for the money except waste.

21.3.09

Editor: The issue of damaged pavements is continually raised by RA councillors across the borough and represents a critical priority for us. We will continue to lobby for improved maintenance regimes and will considering the available resources in our next set of budget proposals.


Joe Webster, Collier Row & Mawneys RA:

AN INDEPENDENT VOICE

It was reported in the national press last month that the man who once ran Conservative Central Office is setting up a movement that aims to get more independent MPs elected. Sir Paul Judge said that his “Jury Team” will support candidates without espousing central views or policies. The aim is to break the traditional party leadership's control over the political process.  Sir Paul added that the way parties select candidates and whip MPs is “about as undemocratic as it gets”.

Whereas we may not agree with Sir Paul over parliamentary elections we believe that the principle certainly applies locally.  Much of what the Council does is determined by Westminster so it is paramount that an independent voice is heard in Havering. 

At present the Conservatives have an overall majority on Havering Council.  Decisions are whipped severely which over the last three years has not been in best interest of the electorate in general and not in specific areas of the Borough in particular.  The selection of candidates in 2006 deliberately excluded anyone, including sitting councillors, who had expressed a view at variance with certain controlling interests.  There is no reason to believe that 2010 will any different.  When Labour ran the Council things were very much the same.

The Residents Association is a loose affiliation which allows more independent thought and action.  It can be argued that this could lead to weaker governance.  However there is no evidence that councils up and down the Country that are run by Independents, or even where parties share responsibilities, are run any worse than in Havering.  In fact performance indicators show that many are run much better.

The election of Residents onto the Council will give members that independence of voice which is so much more needed in Havering.  Decisions will not just be waved through by party whip or be subjected to interference by MPs who are looking to their own majorities.

Editor: Well said Joe! Local democracy needs the assurance of quality decision making that is unhindered by party whips or railroad logic. For more information on the ‘Jury Team' visit the website at http://www.juryteam.org/


GK, Harold Wood

£23.10 A WEEK COUNCIL TAX

I Would like to no how many people have just received this years Council Tax bill & yes its gone up once again, but have you had a read of the booklet that has been sent along with it, it explains where our hard earned wages are going. Well I think we the public are being well and truly taken for a ride. I don't mind pay for the LBF & Police but paying £1.10 a week for Highways & Car parking...don't all of us you drive pay road tax every year? And how many car parks do we use in this borough which are free....None - we have to pay up to £4 for a few hours....so why have we got to pay this????

I have to pay £13 a year to park in my street...

£1.45 a week for Leisure & Recreation. What sports & health centre can you use in this borough for free - none - you have to pay....so why are we paying this.

£20 a year for the Olympics up until the year 2016/17....does this mean we all own a piece of the Olympic complex No...does this mean that we will be able to go a watch the Olympics for free...NO....so why have we got to pay for it...I don't really care if the Olympics never comes to England its costing me & everyone else in this borough money.   

Then there's £10.17 for Social services, I think the Government should pay this. Can anyone explain why we should be paying for this?

We will be losing a total of £23.10 a week to this Government. That's alot of money over the months which we the people in this borough could be spending on our own families who need it. 

 Everyone have a read of this booklet & see what you think. Hope I'm not the only one who feels we are being taken for a ride.

20.3.09

Editor: In essence, this  represents the difference between what the Government give us to run the services (which is not enough) and the actual cost of running the services. The difference is the 'council tax'!

In the meantime, it is the Conservative Administration on Havering Council who agree the council tax and it is something we constantly question and offer alternatives


JR, Cranham:

CRANHAM NEEDS A FULL 248 BUS SERVICE

Dear Editor,

Thanks for highlighting the problem of 248 buses missing out Upminster Park Estate and Cranham.  There is however one vital point to be made here: whereas several bus routes connect Romford, Hornchurch and Upminster, only the 248 serves Upminster Park Estate.  TfL's reasoning that they have to maintain a service for the majority of their passengers neglects the fact
that there are alternatives covering that busy area, but none at "our" end
of the route.

Believe me, when you've already been delayed coming home from a (mercifully rare) visit to Romford, an announcement by your bus driver that you will be dumped at Upminster Station is the last straw.  I have on occasion resorted to unparliamentary language aboard a 248 in the face of such treatment.  And what about Upminster Park Estate residents trying to get home after shopping in Upminster?

The bus operator should regard the Upminster-Cranham part of the 248 route as the most important, to be included at all costs even if it means
increased waiting times elsewhere.  Let's not forget that once upon a time
this was the full extent of the 248 route!

13.3.09


JP, Upminster:

BRITISH JOB REQUIRED FOR BRITISH WORKE

Earlier this week, whilst driving along the A127, I saw a man standing on the verge near to the Upminster turn-off. He carried a large placard bearing the written statement "British job required by a British worker".

I know that similar scenes have been witnessed elsewhere but, up until this occasion, they had appeared distant to these leafy suburbs.

27.2.09 


EG, Upminster

UPMINSTER STATION PARKING CHARGES

I was shocked to see the cost of parking my car in the station car park during peak hours. I have to do this to get to work on time after dropping off my young daughter.
 
Why, for example, is it more expensive to park your car in Upminster at peak times - at £6.50 a day - compared to every other station on the C2C route?
 
If you buy a monthly season ticket you are robbed of £100 and the next closest is Benfleet at £85. Do we get additional services at Upminster that is not provided at the other car parks?
 
I am a working mum (part-time in the City). As a result of these ridiculous prices I have to pay £48.50 - which includes childcare for one child - to even get to work! Can't C2C try and get a cap put on the parking prices which are starting to look like they might equal a daily Travelcard sometime soon (£10)!!


Editor: We have written to the operators asking for an explanation of the pricing structure.

 

14.20


TN, Upminster:

SNOW TIME FOR SHOPPERS?

Ok, so it's in our nature to want to find someone to blame. And the weather was indeed to blame for the glass-like layer of compacted snow and ice that brought the young and old of Upminster, who ventured onto the "High Street" this week, down to earth with a bone jangling bump. Once the snowfall that gave lots of us the day off work, school or shopping on Monday 2nd Feb moved elsewhere, was it not reasonable to expect that someone might take responsibility for clearing at least a narrow walkway through the wide pavements of Upminster's main shopping area, making a safe passage free from the precarious layer of ice?
 
Even if we grudgingly let Havering Council off the hook on the grounds they were busy gritting roads and using up a year's quota of salt in the space of a few days, it seems the recession has in fact erased Upminster's shop owners community spirit along with their profits.  If, on Monday, or early Tuesday just 50% of our shops had cleared/salted the area in front of their premises before it froze solid, the glacial death trap that coated the pavement - still there on Thursday evening - would have quickly disappeared. Not one shop made an effort. 
 
Instead, even two days after the snowfall, as school children were let apprehensively by their parents, commuters slid their way inch by inch to the station, and brave elderly residents quickly realised a fall was imminent, we all had to decide whether walking in the busy main road was more or less likely to result in serious injury. 
 
I'm no retail expert, but basic marketing tells you that in adverse conditions - economic or weather related - if your customer can reach your shop, it's a good start. If they can reach your shop, and see you've made an effort to help the community, they may even give you more business as a result.  Please, shopkeepers of Upminster, we know times are tight but if it snows again sometime soon, do us favour and buy a bag of salt and bring a spade to work!
 
6.2.09


CB, Upminster:

NEW YEARS HONOURS OVERSIGHT?

Looking through the New Years Honours list I was surprised and disappointed not to find mention of 84 year-old William Grove who, back in October, single-handedly foiled a jewellery raid in Richmond, London. Surely some oversight?

4.1.09

Editor: What do readers think, is there anyone you would like to have seen honoured other than the usual band of celbrities and civil service mandarins? Why not tell us on Have Your Say.


SR, Emerson Park:

DARTFORD TOLL – THE GREAT BRITISH RIP-OFF!

I use the Dartford River Crossing most work days. I have a Dart-Tag so the price increase is minimal for me but since the prices have risen the queues for the tolls have lengthened considerably which is costing me money in wasted fuel (and time). I put it down to -

(i) some people not being aware of the increase so they don't have the correct payment and the increase has to be explained by the attendant;

(ii) those that do know still don't have the correct money so change has to be given (most people had their £1 coin at the ready in the past but now don't necessarily have £1.50 ready).

It is amazing how many lorry drivers now have Dart-Tags. HGVs used to be a major hold up if one was stuck behind one but now it is not usually a problem. There is of course the occasional left hand drive vehicle where the driver only has a £20 note but a lot of the foreigners also have Dart-Tags. Most of the delays are caused by ordinary motorists.

The actual tendering of the money takes considerably longer than passing through with a Dart-Tag which adds to the queues.

Overall, the whole thing is one of the great British rip-offs and I hope that one day the charge will be abolished.

6.12.08


Mr G, King, Queens Park Road, Harold Wood:

PARKING PERMIT COST OUTRAGE

After going to renew my parking permit for which we are paying £13 per year to park in the street where we live. we have been informed that if we have a third car we will have to pay a very large sum of £75 plus the £13 each for the other cars in all a total of £101 a year for three cars, not forgetting we also have to pay road tax, so if you have a couple of children who want to start driving you will have to pay this large sum, this is penalising families with children, plus on a Saturday & Sunday anyone can park in the street paying not a bean & park anywhere even outside our homes,

We have trouble getting parked in our own street, we the people who live in the street even have to pay for visitor passes so our friends & family can visit us or have people working in our homes, lets get this put right - permits for any one who wish to park, no permit no parking that means Saturday & Sunday as well.

Keep the permits £13 per car not rob us of £75 for having a third car. Inform us of any changes not let us find out when we get our renewal letter.

This is a concern of all resident in the street

1.12.08


VB, Cranham

NEW RECYCLING ‘TRIALS' AND TRIBULATIONS!

Living in Cranham we are “lucky” enough to live in one of the areas that is taking part in “an exciting new recycling trial”.

I have read the letter and coloured leaflet that came through the door, explaining the new system, which now includes recycling textiles in yet another coloured bag especially for this purpose.

The scheme started on the 17 th November and so, last week, we dutifully presented our different bags for collection on the appointed day.

The refuse collectors came and went, but unfortunately left one of our rubbish bags and one of our neighbour's recycling bags behind.

A quick phone call to the council the following day assured us that someone would be sent to pick up these bags and they were collected that day.

This week we again put out our bags for collection and yet again one of the rubbish bags, and one belonging to a different neighbour, were not collected.

Another phone call to the council and another assurance that someone would be round to collect, except this time they haven't been so quick.

I would point out that our household waste, which wasn't collected, was put out in a terracotta coloured bag, which was marked “Refuse” in large black letters. The council said it probably wasn't picked up because of the colour of the bag. We have always used this coloured bag in the eight years we have lived here and have never had a collection missed before. This council does not specify what colour refuse sacks residents should use for general household waste. The only ones that are specified are the orange recycling sacks, the green garden waste sacks and the new white textile sacks

What a waste of time and money these extra trips to pick up missed bags must cost.

Our other issue is with the use of the word “textiles”, which according to the Oxford English dictionary means “ a woven or machine-knitted fabric ”. In fact the council do not want to recycle “woven or machine-knitted fabric” as such, they actually only want clean, dry clothes, paired shoes, bags, belts, hats, scarves and gloves – the type of garments you would usually take to a charity shop. This was confirmed in a conversation with a member of the council's recycling team.

I feel that residents are being conned here, because said textiles are apparently being hand sorted in the UK by TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) for reuse and recycling and the profits raised support projects to fight global poverty and encourage more recycling.

Does this now mean that many of the items of clothing that residents would normally donate to a charity shop of their choice, will now be put out for the council to collect because it will be a lot easier than driving it to said charity shop and, as a consequence, will local charity shops now be deprived of donations?

I think the use of the words “Textile Recycling” should be changed to “Clothing Recycling” as the former is very misleading

29.11.08

Editor: Have any other readers had similar experiences? Please let us know at Have Your Say.


GB, Upminster:

MORE MOBILE SPEED TRAPS!

Mobile speed traps are such a good idea.  If drivers thought they were going to lose their cars for a period, even a week, for the first offence then I am sure they would be more aware of speed limits.

About 18 months or so ago they had a speed check in Park Drive.  The police wore high visibility vests and were able to be seen from quite a distance down both ways in the road, therefore, drivers were able to slow down.  The fastest speeds seem to take place between 6 - 8am and between 3 - 7pm  and 10 to midnight.  Lets have speed checks more often and see if we can stop these dangerous people.

18.11.08


SJ, Gaynes Park Road, Upminster:

ELECTRONIC SPEED SIGNS INEFFECTIVE

I write further to the article in the November Bulletin entitled "Fast and Furious".

I recall not that long ago, receiving letters from the Council asking us, the tax payers and road residents, our view on using road humps or the "flashing signs" to calm traffic in Gaynes Park Road.  The next we see are the "flashing signs" going up all over the borough ... within days half were not working and then, no doubt after considerable repair expense, seem to be irrationally on and off.

Even more annoying, and blindingly obvious to anyone who thinks about it, is that when working they are generally ignored, and are certainly ignored by the idiots who speed down Gaynes Park Road.  Someone has made a lot of money out of this scheme and I would like to know who !!

18.11.08

Editor: The electronic ‘speed' signs certainly seem to have a limited impact, especially when they don't work! Can readers let me know which ones do not work and we can pursue this. Just contact Have Your Say.


JW, Cranham:

CCTV FOR TESCO BUS STOP

Having just heard about the decision to pave in the bus stop outside Tesco's in Cranham, I agree with Cllr Barrett that surely the answer is not to make the road more dangerous, but to enforce the restrictions that are already in place by the erection of a 24 hour CCTV.

If motorists who are too lazy to walk a few yards knew that they would be ticketed every time, the selfish parking would disappear overnight.

As usual the innocent have to suffer because of the selfish actions of others.

The same happened at Avon Road shops and now buses just block the road until it moves off again. Again, CCTV cameras would have solved the problem and given reassurance to residents that the area was being watched and lowered the fear of crime in the vicinity.

Now buses stopping in the middle of Front Lane at the very busy junction with Moor Lane will cause danger and congestion.

Of course if the public car park were free that might encourage more usage but I suppose that's a completely different story.

I'm off to walk down to the shops, do you think the idea will ever catch on?

16.11.08

Editor: Like you, I am convinced that 24hr CCTV would have been a very effective way forward, but neither the Council or Transport for London would pay for it. The existing situation could not be allowed to carry on as it is too dangerous, allows selfish motorists to carry on parking there and TfL would suspend the bay again.


VB, Cranham:

MORE ON ‘PARKING THE WRONG WAY'

Further to my previous letter regarding "parking the wrong way round" in the road at night, further rules for parking at night are given in paragraph 249 of the Highway Code which  states:

All vehicles MUST display parking lights when parked on a road or a lay-by on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph (48km/h). (Law RVLR reg 24).

And paragraph 250 states:

Cars, goods vehicles not exceeding 1525 kg unladen weight, invalid carriages, motorcycles and pedal cycles may be parked without lights on a road (or lay-by) with a speed limit of 30 mph (48km/h) or less if they are

  • at least 10 metres (32 feet) away from any junction, close to the kerb and facing in the direction of the traffic flow
  • in a recognised parking place or lay-by.

Other vehicles and trailers, and all vehicles with projecting loads, MUST NOT be left on a road at night without lights. (Laws RVLR reg 24 & CUR reg 82(7))

30.10.08

Editor: Thanks again VB.


VB, Cranham:

PARKING WRONG WAY IS AN OFFENCE

Re the letter from JS of Upminster entitled "Wrong Way Parking Hazard", paragraph 248 of the Highway Code states "You MUST NOT park on a road at night facing against the direction of the traffic flow unless in a recognised parking space." (Laws CUR reg 101 & RVLR reg 24)

From page 4 of the Highway Code:

Many rules in the Code are legal requirements, and if you disobey these rules you are committing a criminal offence.  You may be fined, given penalty points on your licence or be disqualified from driving.  In the most serious cases you may be sent to prison.  Such rules are identified by the use of the words ' MUST/MUST NOT ' .  In addition, the rule includes an abbreviated reference to the legislation which creates the offence.

29.10.08

Editor: Many thanks for this VB. It would be interesting to find out if any fines/points have been issued for this offence. I shall endeavour to find out.


JS, Upminster:

WRONG WAY PARKING A HAZARD?

Now that the dark evenings are once again with us, I have noticed a really bad habit that parking motorists have gotten into.

The number of cars parked facing the "wrong" way is quite remarkable. This habit is dangerous insofar that their rear red reflectors cannot be seen by oncoming traffic, and in the side roads the street lighting isn't that good. Furthermore, when these drivers go to pull away from the curb, their headlights are ideally positioned to blind the oncoming traffic.

27.10.08

Editor: Not sure if there is anything to stop motorists parking the ‘wrong way', but does it represent a hazard? What do readers think? Please send your views to Have your Say.


JW, Hornchurch:

COUNCIL TAX RISE (OR NOT)?

Having read the Romford Recorder last week, I have requested clarification from our Council Leader, Michael White, regarding an item in which he pledged that there would be no change to council tax and yet went on to say that any increase would not be more than 3.5 per cent!

I have asked him, by email, whether there is going to be yet another increase or not.

If he explains his contradictory statement then I will enlighten you and your readers!

22.10.08


PM, Upminster:

2 WHEELS UP CAN BE SAFE

With regards to a recent item in The Bulletin regarding parking. I would like to agree with the policy with regards being allowed to park with 2 wheels on the pavement.  I live in Upminster, I have 2 cars, one of which I can park on my drive, the other is in the road with my wing mirror pushed inwards for safety. The neighbours up the road have 5 cars and often double park along the road.  Quite often on a Friday (bin day) the refuse men will struggle to get past the cars in the street, I dread to think what would happen if an ambulance or fire engine need to get past.  I have written to the Council in the past with my suggestions but have not had a response.  I am sure many more residents would share my view.

9.10.08

Editor: What do other readers think? Please send your views to Have your Say.


DJ, Upminster:

NO SIGN OF LIVING HERE

As regards the "Living Newspaper" I cannot remember having it delivered for at least the last 12 months. After all the criticism regarding the cost, I just assumed it was no longer being published.

I trust the Council is not paying anybody to deliver the phantom copies?

4.10.08


BT, Upminster:

ILLEGAL PARKING – ONE RULE FOR ONE…….

A few mornings ago, I saw a female enforcement officer issuing a parking penalty ticket to an illegally parked BT van, on a yellow line in Springfield Gardens, Upminster. I noted that the enforcement officer's vehicle was also illegally parked on the same yellow line some fifteen yards away. I asked her if she was going to put a penalty ticket on her own vehicle. Her aggressive response was that she was allowed to park illegally whilst issuing a penalty ticket. I pointed out to her that Hoppy Hall Car Park was only just across the road. She said that she had been round the block twice but not found a parking place and that if she went to the car park the offending van might have gone away. I asked her who had said she could park illegally and she replied: "The council ". Now I know of no law that would authorise any council to permit a breach of the law, even to enforce the law. Perhaps the council could explain which statute empowers them to authorize breaches of the law by their employees. Perhaps their enforcement officers should work on foot after parking legally. They would certainly see more offences

Editor: This is an issue that is regularly raised. I can confirm that under the Local Traffic Management Orders, Civil Enforcement Officers (Parking) are permitted to park on the yellow lines in order to carry out their duties, if no other parking place is available . Officers are instructed to park their vehicles in a safe manner and in authorised areas where possible.

Clearly, the key words here are 'if no other parking spaces are available" and the definition of that may be quite wide!

6.9.08


SM, Cranham:

‘HIDEOUS' MAST BLIGHTS CRANHAM

I have just read in the September issue of The Bulletin that the proposed phone masts application for Cranham has been refused, but only a few days ago what appears to be a phone mast disguised as a telegraph pole has been erected in the middle of the footpath together with its accompanying cabinet outside  Creases dry cleaners in Cranham Village. It looks hideous.If this is a phone mast surely it is unacceptably dominant and more visually intrusive than the originally proposed locations.

3.9.08

Editor: I have received several e.mails on the same theme and agree with the correspondents. However the phone masts referred to in the Sept Bulletin were O2 applications at different locations in Cranham.

 The pole in Cranham Village goes back to an application made by Vodafone in  December 2005  for a mast and accompanying ancillary equipment. Cranham councillors and residents firmly objected to this proposal and the Council subsequently refused the application in February 2006 on the grounds that the equipment would appear prominent and visually intrusive in the local street scene and would be detrimental to the visual amenity of the area. However, the applicant decided to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in August 2006 and the appeal was eventually allowed (with conditions) in December 2006. The objections made councillors, residents and by the Council itself were all set before the planning inspector, but these were overruled. The decision is final and can only be challenged on a matter of process through judicial review.

Whilst I can understand the need to have recourse to appeal for marginal and contentious cases, this nonetheless demonstrates the flaw in a system whereby a clear and well supported decision made by duly elected and accountable representatives of the community can be overturned by a remote planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State.

Over recent years, alot of work and effort has gone into improving the environment in Cranham, it is then most infuriating to have a large pole stuck in the middle of the village which was already refused by the people who are elected to represent the interests of the community.

We have successfully defeated numerous proposals for mobile phone masts in the past and will do everything within our powers to continue that process in the future.


AG, Romford:

A DARTFORD TOLL MYTH

I read in the Yellow Advertiser (13.8.08) that the D of T spokesman referred to research that showed that “if the toll was taken away, traffic congestion would worsen at the crossing”.

What research is he referring to?

The comment beggar's belief and whoever did the research either has a vested interest in retaining the toll or has no conception of the word congestion.

Congestion does not occur simply because the volume of traffic increases, it occurs because there is a restriction or obstruction. When was the flow of traffic allowed to pass unimpeded, occasioned by the removal of all of the toll booths, to enable this hypothesis to be validated? The tollbooths currently provide the restriction to the free flow of traffic, which dispensed with would ease congestion dramatically.

The D o T spokesman really needs to acquaint himself with queuing theory before making such a crass statement.

Simple economics also dictates that whether the toll is 10p or £10 that drivers will not wish to incur huge additional fuel costs by finding an alternative route to the Dartford Crossing.

 I feel that the motorist, as usual, is being stitched up once again.

Editor: I agree with you 100% and am equally dumfounded by the logic of saying that the toll somehow 'controls' traffic flow. Like you, I believe that traffic volumes would be the same if it were 10p, £1, £1.50 or zero!

15.8.08


CG, Cranham:

CRANHAM BUS STOP STORM (2)

I write with reference to the closure of the bus stop in Cranham village.

 Whilst this does not affect me in any way I feel that an injustice has been served on the bus users, resulting from this decision.

Unfortunately due to the Council's decision to charge for car parking, the whole area has become congested including the bus- lay by, but not of course the carpark.However, I do sympathise with the protest against paying for parking, but as a responsible motorist I do not think drivers should get away with parking in bus lay-by's causing this sort of disruption for bus passengers. 

 Where is the smart car now I wonder? still doing it's round of Cranham Gardens and other quiet streets in the area.

Furthermore this bus stop is topped with a yellow cover directing people to Dorkins Way , but unless you look up in the air, the first realisation of the situation is when the bus pulls out of the depot and passes without stopping. It should also be said that Dorkins way is a bus ride away for many people.

 Something has to be done to resolve this problem.

Editor: See next letter.

23.7.08


GD, Cranham:

CRANHAM BUS STOP STORM

I've just read your story on the suspension of the bus stop outside Tesco in Front Lane, Cranham, having gone to get my usual Monday morning bus to work in Hornchurch only to find the notice pasted on the shelter regarding the suspension.

It is so infuriating that the world stops for the car driver. This bus stop has been used for over 40 years (I'm a lifetime resident) and because some idle motorists are too lazy to get off their fat bums and park in the car park the rest of us are put to a great deal of inconvenience. Instead of dealing with the problem - illegally parked drivers - TfL take the easy way out and just get rid of the bus stop. Where's the commitment to public transport in doing that?

I now have the options of waiting further up Front Lane, where I can't see if a bus is even in the terminus and thus waste 20 minutes waiting; or I can spend that 20 minutes walking into Upminster to catch a 248 or 370 there; or I can catch a 346 in Cranham and then a 248/370, paying twice for the privilege of trying to get to Hornchurch. I have a car but won't drive to work while there is a bus route almost door to door and car traffic in the local area is appalling, mostly because of the school run.

Of course it doesn't help that the car park has lost its free status. Since the car park is so unpopular, wouldn't it make sense to turn that into the bus stop, as suggested in your website story?

Editor: The suspension of the bus stop is really down to selfish motorists who continually park in the bay thereby causing a hazard as the bus has nowhere to pull in. As set out on the website item, enforcement is key but if it is mobile for two or three times a day the drivers will simply pull in there when the parking attendants have left. I would like to see a fixed enforcement camera there and the problem would be solved at a stroke. However, the current thinking is to move the boarding point into the bus turnaround area, but this could take many months. 

In the meantime we are meeting with Council and TfL this Friday to set out a way forward for the immediate future.

23.7.08


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham:

NICE WORK.....

Last week it was reported that senior civil servants qualified for bonuses totalling some £128million, £19m of which was paid to Revenue and Customs staff. Also revealed last week was the fact that Revenue and Customs had wrongly paid out some £1.5billion of tax credits. Whilst I understand the correlation between ‘bonuses' and ‘targets', I dread to think what the bonuses would have been had the tax credits been paid out correctly!

19.7.08


JP, Hornchurch:

DARTFORD TOLL MISERY

I was obliged to travel through the tunnel this week. I had forgotten how chaotic it is during the rush hour and believe that, if the fee is increased, it will be even more so due to the large number of motorists who will find that they do not have the required change. There will be log jams at the booths where notes have to be offered as payment. Still, at least the Government's coffers will be boosted by the extra income gained by even more fuel being wasted by this lengthening queue of motorists. The moral is: " talk green but think tax".

Editor: Couldn't agree more. I too was caught up in the hideous jams this week and am appalled that the congestion is largely caused by the collection of a congestion charge itself! As you may be aware, my petition to the PM has so far gathered some 6,000 names and is growing fast! To view/sign please visit: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/dartxx/

5.7.08


MS, Upminster:

St FRANCIS HOSPICE FURNITURE REMOVALS

I did not realise that the St Francis Hospice Furniture Shop (Avon Rd, Cranham) will dispose of old furniture for you. The items I had were not suitable for them to sell, but they were able to offer the disposal service. The gentlemen were brilliant, carrying heavy furniture down the stairs with the utmost care - a very tiring and awkward job - for a very reasonable price!

18.6.08


UPMINSTER LIBRARY NOT WORKING?

I couldn't agree more with the Bulletin reader (June 2008) and comments made about the so called beneficial changes to the above – what nonsense!  

The moving of the counter (it now causes a bottleneck situation), the silly bits of paper instead of stamping the book, the lack of staff – they are so busy at the counter they hardly have time for filing the books away, the computer area  (this could be moved to the upper floor where there is plenty of space and it would be a much quieter area for them), the new shelves where the books all fall out etc., etc., so much public money spent and they haven't got it right yet!!

13.6.08


Geoffrey Farmer, Upminster:

WHEN IS A SPITFIRE NOT A SPITFIRE?

On page 16 of issue 82 of "Living" there is a photograph with the caption "A Spitfire in action at North Weald". It is not a Spitfire; it is a Hurricane (see images).

If ‘Living' cannot get simple facts like this correct how are we expected to believe anything else written in the newspaper?

Spitfire

HurricaneTom2006

4.6.08


A Cranham Resident:

WHY NOT GREEN SACKS IN SHOPS?

Is there any possibility of arranging a partnership with the local shops in Cranham to provide an outlet for the green garden waste bags as I was talking to my elderly neighbour yesterday and she had been to Upminster Library specifically to get these and was told by the assistant we haven't got any at the moment but they have got them in Hornchurch Library!

It is bad enough that we have to pay for them when the service is free elsewhere (Brentwood) but to treat an elderly resident like that is not on.

1.6.08

Editor: Yes, I agree. I shall pursue this as anything that makes recycling our waste (green or otherwise) should be encouraged.


MY, Havering:

KEEP CARE HOMES OPEN

I am very much against the closing down of the two remaining care homes in Havering. I have written in support of them staying open to the Recorder on several occasions and would like to support HAAHC action in trying to keep them open.

29.5.08


BP, Upminster:

ENCOURAGE TO RECYCLE – NOT PENALTIES

Much is being said in the national papers about the possibility of penalties for householders failing to recycle "sufficient" waste.

However the last notification received from LBH on what can and what cannot be recycled in Havering, showed that there are still many types of "plastics" in everyday use which cannot be recycled.  Tesco's at Thurrock used to have facilities to recycle "tetra pac" cartons, but this had to be abandoned because of arson attacks. 

Most people I speak to would like to be able to recycle more waste, and therefore progress on facilities, rather than Government threats, would seem to be a better way forward.

19.5.08

Editor: A good point! I think persuasion and education will prove more productive than penalising people, although there may be capacity for this in extreme cases (eg industries, shops, etc).


Cllr Barbara Matthews, Hacton:

GOOD NEWS – BAD NEWS!!

Good News - Residents of London can celebrate as  Boris has ceased production of the overly expensive and crass publication The Londoner, thereby increasing savings.

Bad News - Residents of Havering cannot celebrate, as LBH has increased production of the overly expensive and crass Living in Havering, thereby increasing costs

Oh well, you win some and you lose some!!!

14.5.08


E&S Smith, Harold Wood:

NO TO ‘LIVING’ IT UP

Most people pay their council tax reluctantly but dutifully for essential services. They do not want frills and compulsory subscriptions for magazines which mostly end up in the bin unread. We feel that twice a year would be quite sufficient as the Council is unlikely to publicise its shortcomings. Personally, we would rather not receive it at all.

8.5.08

Editor: Our on-line poll shows that 51% would prefer the newspaper every other month whilst 42% don’t want it at all!


JP, Hornchurch:

EMPTY CAR PARK

The car park at Woodhall Parade, Hornchurch continues to be under-used. I doubt whether enough revenue has been raised yet to pay for the ticket machine since the imposition of fees, although traffic wardens may have made a killing there by targeting the few that do not display Disabled or Council Employee badges.

In view of the fact that this is now a large vacant area, I suggest that it be turned over to recycling. Bottle banks, if sited here, would help to reduce the carbon footprints of local people who currently have to drive to such facilities that are some miles away.

Second thoughts: not a good idea, knowing this Council, they would charge us a parking fee to do so!

25.4.08


VB, Cranham

CAR PARK CHARGES = EMPTY SHOPS?

Further to MTD's letter below regarding Upminster car park charges, I have noticed there are now a few empty shops in Corbets Tey Road. Are people starting to desert the shops of Upminster due to the parking charges, thereby taking trade and profits away from local shops?

We already have more than our fair share of charity shops in the area and it's not a healthy sign to see shops standing empty. Let's hope this isn’t the start of the downfall of Upminster as a small, but good local shopping area and if it is, then we all know who to thank for that!

17.4.08


MTD, Upminster:

CAR PARK CHARGES GHOST TOWN

I am dismayed to see that Aldi/Upminster car park is now ‘pay and display’, it may be "only" 20p, but you still have to have coins, leave the car, get a ticket, come back, and if you leave the car unlocked while doing so, then you are a fool.

It could be a little busy at certain times, but with the advent of charges, there are always spaces to be had, if you want to measure success by the number of EMPTY spaces!

With the price of a standard bus fare at a ludicrous £2 each way, is Upminster soon to become a ghost town with only bus pass pensioners and bus pass truants?

17.4.08

Editor: The Residents’ Association have opposed charges in our out of town shopping centres and will continue to do so. The number of empty spaces is a telling consequence of this flawed policy.


VB, Cranham:

NOT SO QUIET RETIREMENT VILLAGE

I read with great interest and bemusement the cleverly crafted package of information on the proposed Moor Lane retirement village.

It was slick to the point of being oleaginous, but the section that stood out and made me laugh out loud was in Section 5, “Where could we build it?” under “To summarise ......” where it states “Older people …… would enjoy all the benefits that this location has to offer. It will be peaceful and relaxing.” !!

Peaceful? Who are they trying to kid given the proximity of the site to the A127 and the soon to be widened M25?

The noise of the traffic from these roads, especially the M25 can be heard the length and breadth of Cranham and if the wind’s in the right direction it can be deafening.

Who in Cranham hasn’t heard the drone of the traffic thundering along the M25? This is especially evident in the summer when windows are open or sitting in the garden.

I live in Cranham, relatively close to the A127 and M25, although not as close as this proposed development, and believe me it can be very noisy at times. I can imagine that this retirement village would be anything but peaceful!

Obviously someone hasn’t done their research properly concerning the siting of this development, or has chosen to ignore it. (I presume the latter.) One thing’s for sure, you could never tell prospective residents that it would be peaceful!

15.4.08

Editor: The draft proposals can be viewed by following this link

http://www.cranhamprojects.co.uk/Cranham1/Home.html


DC, A Dartford Crossing User:

DARTFORD TOLL CONTRADICTS GOVERNMENT ‘GREEN' AGENDA

I was delighted to see your petition for the removal of the tolls at Dartford; and gleefully signed it. I would like to add my penn'orth and tell you what passes through my mind every time I cross the Thames.

I am a lorry driver and have to use the Dartford Toll crossing frequently.

In addition to congestion, fumes and transport costs (not to mention the mind numbing tedium of sitting in an unnecessary queue that adds, on occasion, well over an hour to a day's hard work) I have always felt that the congestion at the Crossing is at odds with the Government's “green” aspirations.

At a time when we are all being asked to think carefully about energy use/waste, I think it is criminal that we sit in that queue using and wasting energy. It makes a mockery of my efforts; turning the heating down at home, turning off lights, recycling, walking rather than using my car etc. I reckon that all the energy that I save by these means is more than used up every time I sit in that queue.

Fridays always seem worst with queues on both sides, the southbound queue consisting largely of foreign lorries trying to get home for the weekend. The amount of diesel a 40 tonne, 400+ horsepower lorry uses is enormous, especially when it has to keep stopping and moving away again. All of that fuel simply heats south Essex and north Kent.

For the Government to say that it reduces congestion is ludicrous; no-one would use it unless they had to and there is no alternative, particularly not the foreign lorries, the drivers of which must often sit heartbroken while they watch their weekend plans disappearing in a cloud of diesel fumes.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if the toll was removed for an experimental period.

I wish you luck with your petition.

5.4.08

Editor: I agree 100% with these points. The petition is gaining tremendous momentum and is moving considerable faster than the traffic waiting to pay at the Dartford tolls!


Mags, Havering:

MORE SPACES AT HILLDENE WOULD RELIEVE TESCO CHAOS

In reference to the letter from Dave Ainsworth (5.3.08) about Tesco overflow of traffic onto the A12 and the chaos it caused. If the local shops, ie Hilldene shopping centre, had more parking spaces for the shoppers to get a few items, then people wouldn’t have to go to Tesco for just half a dozen items and use Tesco for the main heavy shop, rather than daily

If you try to park at Hilldene shopping centre any day at any time it’s ridiculous. No parking bays whatsoever. All taken by long term parked cars that either live in the flats above the shops or workers that park their cars in the parking bays all day while working in the shops.

If you travel to Hilldene shopping centre before 9am or after 6pm you will see that there are not many spaces available to park your car, because there all ready taken by residents or workers

This is why, when I try to park there and after twice circling the shops, I carry on to Tesco to park my car to get my few items of shopping

If more local shops had better parking, one would not have to go to Tesco when only needing a few items and adding to the congestion

5.4.0

Editor: What do other readers think? Should there be more parking bays at Hilldene? If there were would they be taken up by long stayers? Email your views to Have Your Say.


MS, Hornchurch:

RECYCLING MADE EASIER

I have just moved into the Borough after moving from East Ham and I wanted to find out about the policy regarding the recycle bags issued by the council.

After an initial understanding about moving waste off my premises for collection where the "waste disposal operatives" did not even knock at door to advise me that I had to move said waste before collection I phoned the council regarding rules and regs etc regarding waste. I was informed that the "operatives were not allowed on my premises. It all seems a bit daft as i was used to having my wheelie bin collected from out of my own front garden but Hey Ho.. do as in Rome.

The main issue i had was when i asked for recycle bags I was told I would be issued with one roll every 3 months. As a father of young children I avidly encourage them to recycle and feel that the bag provision is just not adequate.  I understand that I can take recyclable waste to the Gerpins Lane site but I feel that using a vehicle and its carbon footprint would negate all efforts.  Would it be possible to increase allowance of recycle bags to residents or at least supply the waste collectors a surplus so they can be issued on request?

As a new resident to the borough I have been appalled at the fly tipping that I have seen in the lanes heading to Thurrock. I have moved here not just for the schooling for my children but also for its parts of rural beauty and I feel that the inadequate supply of recycle bags can only encourage fly tipping.

30.3.08

Editor: The issue of fly tipping is a matter which was recently raised in Full Council. I have some figures outlining incidents, prosecutions, etc which I am just collating and will set out on website in the near future.

Additional orange bags can be collected from libraries and council offices, but I will pursue the option of the waste collectors carrying a 'supply' of extra bags. In terms of quantity, by coincidence the Council are currently undertaking a borough wide survey about recycling and are asking that very question in respect of the adequate supply of 'orange bags'!

In respect of placing bags for collection, the council ask that bags are left on the perimeter of properties because, technically, leaving the bags kerbside is legally construed as 'fly tipping'.


BW, Upminster:

PAVEMENTS FOR PEDESTRIANS NEEDS ENFORCEMENT

I would like to take issue with the article entitled ‘pavements for pedestrians’ on page 8 of the Council ‘Living’ magazine. In this article it states that 'pavement parking is strictly enforced'. It is clearly not in Upminster, as vehicles park on pavements around Forth Road without any fear of enforcement. I would also point out the during the 'school run' both morning and evening, pavement parking in Humber Drive is endemic, but no one stops it.

27.3.08

Editor: This matter has been referred to the Council Parking department who will take action.


D. Ainsworth, Romford:

SAINSBURYS RETURN TO HAROLD HILL


The public opening ceremony, by our Mayor, of Sainsburys at the main Harold Hill Shopping Centre on Wednesday 19th March throws up a few talking points. The Sainsburys 'high-ups' were keen to use their speech time to claim an interest in supporting the locality.   Hmmm!   I can remember when this firm had a most successful branch trading in Harold Hill (with current Havering Councillor Len Long as its Manager and my late mother as one of its cashiers).  When they opened a larger branch in Romford town centre, they closed the smaller Harold Hill store and told its customers that they could go to Romford instead.   Take it or leave it!   Len Long spoke out but to no avail. They made a big trading mistake and have really only come back as they see it as an earner.

The local Conservative Administration claim credit for attracting a big name like Sainsburys onto the Estate, and probably rightly.   But...is this the same Administration which now forces small shopkeepers out of business by imposing sky-high leasehold increases (see Romford Recorder March 14th edition)? Such action can only lead to more boarded-up units and short-let charity shops.

 

20.3.08

CB, Upminster:

NO SAY ON LISBON TREATY!

Our system of democratic representation took another body blow last
week when MPs voted against a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, despite
previous assurances that a public vote on the European Constitution
would be allowed.

The Lisbon treaty refers to the agreement originally called the Reform
treaty, which was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution
after that was rejected by voters in France and Holland in 2005.

There is little doubt that the treaty will lead to a fundamental shift
of power between the UK and the EU, yet it seems incredible that we can
have referendums on locally elected mayors or for an assembly for the
North East, but cannot have a say on our place in Europe?

13.3.08


Keith Westhead, Secretary, Kings Heath Residents' Association, Northampton:

RA WEBSITE GETS THUMBS UP!

Just happened upon your excellent site while searching for RA web sites for inspiration, as we are considering a website for our local RA in Kings Heath Northampton.Just like to say your site looks very professional and would be a credit to many a company or branch of local government.

We shall be visiting again for inspiration and ideas, keep up the excellent work!

11.3.08

Editor: Many thanks for that.


Barbara Holland-Davies, Upminster:

RAILWAY MUST DO MORE TO FILL ‘THE GAP'

I recently had to accompany my 86-year-old mother to an appointment at the London Hospital, Whitechapel.

We went to Upminster Station in order to travel to Whitechapel on the District Line as this would mean no changes or walking for my mother, who has had both hips replaced, and is awaiting a knee replacement.

Having got down the stairs to the platform and waited for the train to arrive, I was somewhat disappointed (or should I say amazed ) that the edge of the platform was an awful lot lower than the step of the train. I mean it was more than a foot away. My mother was on her way to have x-rays to check on the condition of a hip replacement; there was simply no way that she could board the train. It made me wonder what someone in a wheelchair would do – there are signs in the station and elsewhere that state that Upminster has ‘step-free access from road to platform' (we were not made aware of this facility even though my mother is patently disabled) but is it not totally pointless being apparently able to reach the platform ‘step-free', if one cannot then board the train? I would imagine it would also prove extremely difficult for a mum with a pram or pushchair to board the train here.

I approached the driver, who informed me he was not able to provide anything such as a box or step to help my mother get on the train, the gap was not as great at Whitechapel (brilliant; if only you can get on in the first place) and as he had to depart, my choice was to either get on or not. A young man came to our assistance, telling us that the depth of the gap was not quite as bad at the other end of the platform, if we'd like to walk down. When I said the driver was about to leave, this helpful young chap directed us to start walking – he then ran to the driver's cab and told him to wait! He came back to us at the end of the train and offered my mother his arm, and with the support of her walking stick, she managed to board. Without his kind help, I don't know how we would have managed.

I am very concerned that with all the millions of pounds apparently spent on the railways, we are in the position of trains being completely out of kilter with station platforms. Surely something can be done to enable people with less than perfect mobility to use public transport more easily.

7.3.08

Editor: There has been considerable investment by Railways to conform to the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and one would have thought that the ease of boarding and alighting from carriages for those less mobile would be duly considered. This letter has also been sent to the Upminster Station Master and we await a response with interest.


Dave Ainsworth, Romford:

TRAFFIC CHAOS CAUSED BY PARKING CHARGES?

Vehicles on one of Havering's major trunk roads was reduced to a crawl for much of Saturday (1/3/08) - all caused by shoppers trying to gain access to the Tesco Extra Superstore in Whitelands Way near Gallows Corner.

I intended shopping there at about 12.30pm but saw that the traffic jam from Tesco's stretched all the way along the A12 Colchester Road from Whitelands way to the junction of Gubbins Lane and Gooshays Drive. I then decided to go later at what one would consider to be an off-peak time.  I tried again at 4.30pm and the jam, though reduced a bit, was still such that it took me just under 25 minutes to get into their car park.  

I shopped and left at 5.30pm and while I had no trouble leaving, the queues trying to gain entry were still horrendous.   It was bumper-to-bumper along the entire stretch of Whitelands Way, with vehicles trying to gain entry to Tescos from both directions.  The tailback from Whitelands Way was then blocking-off the main A12 truck road, causing all manner of concerns and a monster traffic jam.

I have a theory as to why it has got worse recently, this all coincides with Havering Council's introduction of parking charges in local shopping centres, for customers are now moving on to where they can park for free. The problem is caused by the time taken to get into Tesco's car park from Whitelands Way. 

I've written to Tesco asking them to look at ways of redesigning their access and egress arrangements at Gallows Corner, in a bid to improve matters. It's no good asking the Council to do anything as they've never embraced the basic principles of traffic management, while Transport For London - who control the A12 - think all who drive cars are a menace to Society.

5.3.08

Editor: Are there any other examples of displaced parking resulting from the recent introduction of car parking charges? Please e.mail ‘Have Your Say'.


PT, Havering:

BEWARE ‘OYSTER CARD' DRACONIAN FINES

I am concerned by the bullying exploitative stance taken by TFL over the matter of damaged 16+Oystercards which give free bus travel to students.  My son accidentally stood on his card which was on the bedroom floor at the time. The card is brittle and it fractured along its length. He carefully repaired this with clear tape and this photo-card was accepted by bus drivers on the school run. On a subsequent occasion having being accepted as a passenger by the bus operator an inspector on the same bus found the tracking device on this card did not function with the card reader he had. He kept the card and issued a fine of £20 on the basis of the card having being "altered".  A replacement card had to be obtained at a cost of £10, so a £30 event for accidental damage to a cheap card made from inappropriate material.  Had the driver refused the card he could have paid the fare and would have had an incentive to get an expensive replacement.

TFL terms and conditions make no reference to being fined for having a worn or damaged card, only a comment that anyone with a failed card should ring one of their phone lines.

We appealed on the basis that there was no intent to be dishonest in a free travel situation and in fact had no idea it was an offence. The appeal was quickly dismissed.

It seems that TFL were complicit in the matter in the first place, used an incorrect reason on the penalty ticket and failed to describe anywhere in their terms and conditions these so called offences.

The same draconian measures probably apply to all similar cards given to children and perhaps show how much TFL / the police value being able to track the movements of our children.

 Be warned!

1.3.08

Editor: Are there any similar accounts out there? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Mrs MS, Aveley:

SHOCK AT AXING OF 373 BUS ROUTE

I am very shocked and annoyed to hear of the plans to axe the 373 bus route in Aveley, Essex from the end of March 2008 and particularly that there are no plans to replace the bus route. I currently live in Usk Road in Aveley and am very dependant on the 373 to take me to Upminster station for work but also to take my son and daughter to and from school every day in Upminster. As I do not drive the idea of losing the 373 is unthinkable. How are we expected to get to Upminster after March!!!

I know that a lot of people use Upminster for shopping purposes too. I am not alone in this as the morning 373 buses are very busy with children from the Aveley and South Ockendon area going to school (Gaynes school in Upminster particularly), how are these children supposed to get to school. In a world where we are being asked to use public transport and get out of our cars, you are forcing parents who can drive to drive their children to school. The alternative for people living in Aveley would be to get two buses from Aveley (Route 66 to South Ockendon run by Ensign every 30 mins and then change to the 370 to Upminster run by TFL / Arriva every 15 mins), very time consuming at least any extra half an hour on their journey (ifall buses run on time) and costly as the buses are run by different companies and also the danger factor of asking people to leave home earlier on dark mornings.

If the 373 is taken away then there is no doubt in my mind that it has to be replaced as it would isolate Aveley and the attraction of the area to commuters. I moved to Aveley 4 years ago and the appeal to me was that as a non-driver I could still get to Upminster. This is now to be taken from me. As South Ockendon is having buses added to the area to improve transport, Aveley is being forgotten about and detached.

I am sure I am not alone with my complaint and hope a solution is found before we lose a very valuable bus route.

25.2.08

Editor: There is a growing protest against this proposal. All six Upminster and Cranham councillors have registered their opposition and have requested greater detail about bus usage, reliability and have suggested a ‘stay of execution' whilst this information is gathered and considered.


JP, Hornchuch:

NO TAKERS FOR CAR PARKING CHARGES

Since the imposition of parking fees at Woodhall Parade car park, very few vehicles now park there other than those with disabled badges. The only other regular is one that does so with impunity, for most of the day every weekday without having to display a ticket. However, it does sport a 'Havering Council' parking permit.

Why should Council staff be exempt? Not only do we pay their wages but also, in this instance, it appears that we donate a (taxable?) benefit / perk which does nothing to decrease our Council Tax.

22.2.08

Editor: The Residents' Association have opposed the introduction of car park charges in our out of town centres every step of the way. The reinstatement of free parking is something we have raised in our budget proposals and it is now up to the Council to agree or disagree.

PO, Havering:

STATISTICS, STATISTICS AND CRIME FIGURES….

I was amused to see your item "Crime Figures Down In Havering", in which it declares that crime figures were down 131% in Havering from 67 to 29.

Obviously the crime figures can't go down by more than 100% On the other hand if the crime figures had gone up from 29 to 67 then they would have increased by 131%.

21.2.08


LE, Aveley:

SCHOOL KIDS NEED 373 BUS ROUTE

The 373 bus service is the only one which serves the residents of Aveley to Upminster. How are children suppose to get to school? There was rarely a seat on this bus in the morning so I do not understand why Arriva say the bus service was never used.

18.2.08

Editor: What do regular users think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


AB, Aveley,

SAVE THE 373 BUS ROUTE

I am shocked to learn that the 373 bus route is going to be scrapped. I work in London and travel from Upminster. The only way to the station is by bus.

Do you know of any petitions to save the bus route or any organisations looking to take over this route?

I am writing to Andrew Mackinlay MP with regards to the bus route. Aveley residents need to be able to get to Upminster Station via a direct route.

18.2.08

Editor: The proposed axing of this route comes at very short notice. The route is renowned for unreliability and if it were more reliable perhaps more people would use it. Indeed there is a petition on this matter, please click here

 


SC, Upminster:

FUNDING OLYMPIC SIZED SALARIE

It comes as no surprise that the ever increasing bill for the 2012 Olympics is fuelled by the massive salaries of senior executives of the Olympic Delivery Authority. How can the Chief Executive of the ODA justify an annual salary of £372,000 when our own Prime Minister can only merit a less flattering £189,000 per year?

Funding such colossal salaries provides little comfort to the council tax payers of Greater London, who have been saddled with a £625million Olympic levy,  or the many arts, sports and heritage groups have had £675million of lottery cash taken from them to fund such excesses

6.2.08

Editor: What do other readers think? Email your views to Have Your Say?


Bill Amos, Collier Row:

PACKAGING IS RUBBISH!

I read with interest the article on the Rubbish Poll (8.12.07). As I see it the problem is the amount of surplus packaging supplied by the supermarkets. It wouldn't be quite so bad if it was all recyclable, but it isn't! I can't understand why it isn't as they've had long enough to get their act together. It would be nice if we all had the time, and the nerve, to remove the packaging at the till and leave it at the supermarket, but we don't.

Maybe the councils (all councils not just Havering) could force the supermarkets to have containers in their car parks solely for the packaging that they supplied and make it their responsibility to recycle/sort it. Perhaps then they'd do something about it. This would save the councils the cost of sorting and dealing with this packaging. You never know it might even lead to a reduction in council tax (some hope!).

29.1.08

Editor: Are there any more ways we can reduce supermarket packaging? Why not e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


B. Boakes, Upminster:

COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION?

Now that the Council is charging for car parking across the whole of Havering can I expect a decrease in my Council Tax?

27.1.08


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham:

‘GOOD CAUSES' DEPRIVED THROUGH OLYMPIC FUNDING

In a recent declaration from the minister for the Olympics and London , Tessa Jowell, it was announced that there is no shortfall in the finances for the 2012 Olympics and that ‘good causes' will be repaid the £675 million ‘loan' through land sales following the Olympics.

If this is considered a loan, then why can't the Treasury relinquish the £600million tax collected on lottery sales for a year and then pay itself back through land sales? By the time any funding is ever returned to our arts, sports and heritage bodies many, unlike the Treasury, would have folded through lack of money.

 

26.1.08


GH, Harold Wood:

IMPACT OF HAROLD WOOD HOUSING PLANS

I am concerned over the impact of allowing 874 housing units to be constructed on the former Harold Wood Hospital, in particular:

Roads - The volume of traffic using Gubbins Lane and Squirrels Heath Road at peak times of the day is already at an unacceptable level. I am given to understand that provision is to be made for around 1300 car parking spaces in this development. If this development is allowed to take place the volume of traffic will not only exceed that previously experienced but will also cause grave congestion at peak times

Character - I cannot think of a scheme more clearly designed to destroy the character of Harold Wood than this monstrous development. Whilst I am aware of the usual arguments about ‘not standing still' ‘a place for people to live' etc. there is the counter argument of not allowing the destruction of a community which has developed and built up over very many years for the sake of ‘progress'. Harold Wood has for many years suffered from the blight of numerous ‘infill' developments. These have eaten away at the pleasant suburb which I knew when I first moved into the area.

Surrounding Environment - The leaflet handed out at the public exhibition refers to the scheme helping to ‘improve the visual appearance of the site'. I profoundly disagree. If the aim was to do just that then the scheme would include a greater amount of open space and reduce the density of the housing units, or better still take it back to parkland

Density of Housing - In a letter from the Policy and Partnership Directorate (3.10.01) reference is made to 51.5 dwellings per hectare as a guideline. The current proposal appears to be more in the region of 70 dwellings per hectare. This represents an increase of 36% in the density of dwellings from the original proposals

Conclusion - In the Countryside Properties' own Website the density was given as 780 as late as March last year for a 31 acre site. This has now crept up to 874 as a result of the sale of more land by the Hospital Trust. This proposed development has already gone too far and we owe it to future generations to halt the despoliation of our communities

23.1.08


Cllr Barbara Matthews, Hornchurch:

NHS CARE MUST BE SAME FOR ALL

Yet again we hear that thought is being given to certain categories (i.e. the obese and smokers) being made to pay for their health care because any problems they incur are ‘self inflicted'.

This old chestnut gets an airing on a regular basis, and to be frank gives me the pip. Obviously, and understandably, those currently awaiting medical or surgical attention are bound to think ‘Yes those people are taking up treatment that I desperately need' so the Government of the day, and the numerous failing Health Trusts and Primary Care Trusts can point at these folk as proof they have support for the idea. What a low and crass way of wriggling out of their responsibilities.

For how long would this charge be levied? How long after an obese person manages to lose some weight or a cigarette smoker attempts to kick the habit will such charges cease, because problems relating to these conditions may not show for a number of years? It is all utter nonsense and we should not be sucked in to such an exercise.

Isn't a gardener who unfortunately slices their foot with a spade or fork ‘self inflicting' that injury? Who do we D-I-Y fanatics blame if we fall off a step ladder when decorating? And what about those that do exercise regularly like running or walking - would they have sprained that ankle if they hadn't decided to enter the London Marathon?

Let's continue as we are, all paying our National Insurance contributions into the central ‘pot' to allow health care to be readily available for ANYONE that needs it, when they need it.

Think about it, whatever you may think of this or previous Governments alot of money gets put into the NHS. Most of the wastage I have witnessed has nothing to do with the patients but more with gross mismanagement and incompetence. There is a lot of good work done by staff, but that seems to me to be despite the powers that be rather than because of them.

Look at our local PCT. They closed the clinic in Westland Avenue , and there it stands unsold and still empty. The new clinic in South Hornchurch boasts a general reception are and a separate one for podiatry and dental care – except it is not open but used as a storage area. New rooms built specifically for the dental side remain unused as the dental care isn't actually sited there but remains in a portacabin type building by South Hornchurch Library. A chimp could organise this better I am sure!

Numerous GPs refuse to do house calls, have cut their practice hours and despite denials patients are still complaining they cannot make an appointment, but have to ring each day to see if there is a cancellation.

On more than one occasion, I have personally witnessed staff in hospitals whisking away a stone cold untouched meal from a patient with a merry ‘Not hungry today then?‘ when in reality the poor soul is immobile from a stroke or similar and cant reach the slop even if they wanted to!

Ask anyone who has suffered from diabetes for a number of years their view of the difference in the standard of monitoring and support care over the past five years.

Why did it take nearly FIVE months for someone I know very well to find out whether or not breast cancer had reoccurred?

Now there's talk of people with certain conditions treating THEMSELVES at home! Well that's something I would go for as I don't have MRSA in my house and think of the fun we'll all have playing doctors and nurses! I suppose we'll be given a medical degree to hang on our walls and of course a rebate of our NI contributions. Who knows, the next move could be that we'll be expected to treat each other.

22.1.08

Editor: Some powerful and well demonstrated points made by Cllr Matthews. I think that the founding principle of the NHS that care should be ‘free at the point of need' must prevail. What do other readers think? Why not e.mail your views to Have Your Say?


WW, Havering

LIGHTS OUT PETITION (3)

In response to the letter from Ian Wilkes, I am happy to pay council TAX for extra street lighting rather than reducing it. Reduced street lighting only encourages  Drug Dealing, burglary, and Antisocial behaviour. Just the other day I witnessed a burglary where lighting was very poor and an ideal location for drug dealers as I have seen too.  So unless you want to encourage this disgraceful behaviour I suggest the petition should be for more street lighting and not less, to drop 1 in 3 street lights is not the answer unless you have a zero crime rate in your area

20.1.0

Editor: In other parts of the country there are examples of reduced street lighting after a certain time (eg 2am ). Whilst security should not be compromised, I do wonder why long stretches of motorway need lighting in the middle of the night when other stretches do not (particularly in non-built up

Anon, Havering:

LIGHTS OUT PETITION (2)

I am unable to sign this petition because, having been a recent burglary victim in this Borough, I am now obliged to increase my carbon footprint by leaving some house lighting on throughout the night even whilst I am in residence. Therefore, I urge all other Havering householders to do likewise and not to desist until detection and suitable punishment is enforced. Once I am confident that I reside in a 'safer neighbourhood' I shall consider reducing my carbon footprint.

16.1.0

Editor: I understand and agree with your concerns; however the petition is only concerned with shops, depots and offices which have lights blazing away all night where a health & safety or security need is not demonstrated.

Ian Wilkes, Romford:

LIGHTS OUT PETITION (1)

My grouse on night-time lighting concerns all the street lights permanently on. While I appreciate that salient lights should be on all the time, it should not be beyond human endeavour to drop, say, one in three along most suburban streets - again resulting in a significant saving in global energy (and reducing our Council Tax burden into the bargain).

15.1.08


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham:  

FINES FOR MISSED APPOINTMENTS NOT THE ANSWER  

A recently reported proposal to impose a £20 ‘deposit' upon patients in order to tackle missed appointments would be an unwelcome development.

In 2006/07, 52,000 operations were cancelled at the last minute owing to non-clinical reasons. The distress caused to patients and their families by these cancellations is significant, yet there is no suggestion that they should be eligible for similar compensation.

Whilst many people on low income may be unfairly penalised by the scheme, the additional bureaucracy generated by collecting, retaining and then reimbursing £20 for each patient is an administrative burden that the NHS could do without.   Rather than imposing needless financial impositions on people, perhaps it would be better to use some of the £6.25 billion set aside for the NHS computer to provide an automatic reminder system that works.   8.1.08  

Editor: What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


RS, Cranham:

LISBON TREATY WORRIES

The signing of the Lisbon Treaty will undoubtedly lead to a more centralised Europe , but how can we put our trust in an organisation that, for the eleventh year in a row, has not had its annual accounts approved because the vast majority of spending is affected by errors of legality and regularity?

27.12.07

Editor: This, of course, refers to the agreement o riginally called the Reform Treaty, it was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution after that was thrown out by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.

All 27 EU countries will be expected to ratify the Treaty in 2008 with a view to it coming into force in 2009.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Anon, Upminster:

POLICE FIGURES DOUBT

None of my neighbours have been burgled, thanks to their own security measures and not because of any police presence because it is is non-existent in our area, except on paper. None have been subject to motor vehicle crime, thanks to the manufacturers' efforts whereby you can no longer access cars with the key from a can of corned beef. Never-the-less, many have been victims of credit card fraud. How fortunate for the Police that they do not have to record such thefts by fraud as crimes in their statistics. I also note that homicides are not included: do they not occur in this borough? There are lies, bigger lies and then you get statistics!

23.12.07

Editor: The figures released by the Metropolitan Police (now updated for November) include 5 homicides for 12 months up to November 2007 against the same number for the 12 month period up to November 2006; this is against a total of 169 homicides across London for the same period.


Anon, Havering:

LIMIT COUNCIL TAX RISES

In view of the low grant from the Government, perhaps a petition could be directed at the Council requesting them to stop wasting money on things like the Romford Area Action Plan documentation. This has CD's and large books which I suspect nobody will read. Perhaps people would like fewer services but "lower" council tax. The Council must learn to live within what we as council tax payers can afford. I would like a Rolls Royce but I can't afford it.

I think the rise in council tax should only be in line with the cost of living rise percentage.

16.12.07

Editor: There are many duties and expectations placed on the Council by central government with little or no funding to go with it. The Government themselves spend some £338m a year employing 3,252 spin doctors and support staff, they should take a long hard look at just what (and why) this is spent on! What do other readers think, e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


VB, Cranham:  

MAKE PAPER ROUNDS SAFER FOR CHILDREN

I leave for work each morning at about 7.00 am when it is still dark and have noticed young people delivering newspapers. Some of them are on foot and some of them ride bikes.   This morning, when it was very frosty and the usual assortment of drivers were starting their journey with very limited visibility, because they couldn't be bothered to de-ice their windscreens and car windows properly, I saw a young paper boy cycling through Cranham and, apart from his fluorescent coloured paper bag, he was dressed in dark clothes and had no lights on his bike and no red rear reflector. This rendered him almost invisible.

These young people provide a great service in all weathers, and save many people from having to go out themselves in cold or wet weather to get their daily paper, but they are putting themselves in danger.By law, at night, cyclists must have white front and red rear lights, a red rear reflector and, if their bike was manufactured after 1/10/85, amber pedal reflectors.I think the people who employ these young paper deliverers should check to make sure that their bikes are suitably lit before they let them deliver papers on them, otherwise they are condoning their employees breaking the law. I would also like to see them supplying their deliverers with hi-viz waistcoats with reflective strips on them, in order for them to be better seen by motorists in the dark and bad weather.

In most other areas, employers have to supply hi-viz clothing to their employees, i.e. building sites, school crossing patrols etc etc, so the same should apply to those who employ our paper boys and girls, after all, one of the most potent dangers to young people is on the roads.  

13.12.07  

Editor: A good point from VB. Considering the work they do, paper boys/girls get paid a pittance. It should be the responsibility of the ‘employer' to make sure they are given very basic safety measures, such as hi-viz bibs. What do other readers think? Why not e.mail your viewsto Have Your Say.?


TB, Havering

POLICING BY WAREHOUSE

I read in the online paper 'The Register' of  7/12/07  that the Met. Police is proposing, in each London Borough, to house its active police in one warehouse type facility, leaving the PCSOs to face the public and man shop-type High St units.  If this is an April Fool then it is a bit early.  They were supposed to support the police not replace them!

12.12.0

Editor: This article - see link -

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/07/met_copper_warehouses/

relates to a consultation document which suggests placing PCSOs further into the community whilst freeing up regular police officers for operational duties. What do readers think? Is this a good or bad idea? e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


SL, Havering:

WHY NOT TACKLE LOW PAY FOR KITCHEN/DINNER STAFF?

I am a resident of Havering and I also work for the Council in school meals and I have to take up the comment of Clarence Barrett regarding paying school crossing people £10 an hour. I have ladies who supervise kitchens of up to 10 staff feeding 1,100 children in secondary schools in the borough who do not earn much more than the £7.42 quoted. They have to be financially aware, staff motivators, hygiene and health and safety trained, able to communicate with students and a whole host of other skills so I think he needs to take a reality check!

Many of them also only work 39 weeks a year and work many more than the hours they are paid for, just so that the students are well fed and looked after - a job made much harder after the intervention of Mr Oliver!!

10.12.07

Editor: I certainly take on board the comments about low pay for kitchen/dinner staff.   Whilst I am very conscious that there are many other people on low wages, I was referring solely to the school crossing patrols in my argument and used the figure to draw attention to the high vacancy factor (33%)..   I am particularly interested in low pay issues and often comment on the iniquitous arrangement whereby the minimum hourly wage for workers aged over 22 is £5.52 per hour, whilst those aged 18 – 21 can only expect £4.60 – and those aged 16-17 years old can only anticipate a minimum of £3.40. Whether you are 17 or 62, an hour's work deserves the protection of same minimum wage, ie £5.52 per hour.   This is an issue that is being pursued by the British Youth Council and I fully support their endeavours.

Anon, Havering:

SAME MINIMUM WAGE FOR ALL

In response to the letter from VR (7.12.07) about teens not doing anything, I'd like to offer my own thoughts on the matter!

When I was growing up in the US , I had a JOB. I was working at the age of 14, making minimum wage, but it was a job!!

In the UK there is legalised age discrimination for workers under age 21. The minimum wage is actually lower, and in some cases, as low as £3.40 per hour before taxes? Would you work for £3.40 an hour now? I wouldn't.

If the exemptions for the minimum wage were taken away, those under 21 could have the same minimum wage as adults, enjoy the wonders of job satisfaction, learn how to have a work ethic, and actually help the economy. Now that's progress!

9.12.07

Editor: I could not agree more about the minimum wage and scandalous way it is not the same for everyone.

Low Pay is an issue that affects many thousands of people across the country. In part, this is a baton taken up by the Low Pay Commission, but even the increase in the minimum hourly wage in October 2007 is, in my

opinion, still unfair. While workers aged over 22 can expect a minimum wage of £5.52 per hour, those aged 18 – 21 can expect £4.60 and those aged 16-17 years old can only anticipate a minimum of £3.40. I believe that, whether you are 17 or 62, an hour's work deserves the protection of same minimum wage, ie £5.52 per hour.

This is an issue that is being pursued by the British Youth Council and I fully

support their endeavours.

VR, Upminster:


GROW UP!


I am sick to death of teenagers who live in Upminster and Cranham moaning that there is nothing for them to do in the area and that is the reason why they hang around on street corners and smash things up.
 
I moved to Cranham when I was two years old, in the early fifties, and therefore, I too grew up with "nothing to do" when I became a teenager, but my friends and I used our initiative, got off our butts and travelled to places like Hornchurch, Romford or further afield to find our entertainment.
 
Teenagers these days all seem to want spoon feeding and want everything on their doorstep.  They have far more opportunities than I ever had and far more money, which is evident in the fact that they all have the latest mobile phones and i-pods etc and they have free bus travel.
 
Cranham is the safest ward in Havering and I should imagine Upminster is not far behind.  Introduce night clubs and rowdy pubs and you will introduce trouble.  (Witness Romford town centre!)
 
The small minority of youths who hang around and cause trouble, whether it be in Upminster, Cranham or elsewhere, will still do just that no matter how much entertainment is laid at their feet.  Their sort do not want organised entertainment, especially anything run by adults.
 
The great majority of local teenagers manage to find things to do and places to go.  Maybe some of them could put some suggestions on this website for those moaners who cannot help themselves.
 
These whinging youths should thank their lucky stars that they are growing up in such a nice area, a fact that they will appreciate one day, when they are more mature.

7.12.07

Editor: Some strong points made by VR. What do other readers think?Why not e.mail Have Your Say

Nick Cook, NW London :

DARTFORD TRAFFIC MISERY

I have now been working in Anchor Boulevard , just to the South East of the crossing for the best part of a year. I live in NW of London and have to commute into this area every day.

In my opinion the Crossing is being allowed to cause unacceptable delays in the area to the south of the Crossing. This applies to the local roads as well as the approach from the south on the M25. I cannot speak regarding the effect to the North of the river, but generally there would appear to be lengthy delays south bound as well.

As soon as the approach backs up, the feeder roads such as the A206 West bound between Greenhithe and the crossing block up because traffic which wishes to go into the tunnel cannot get onto the slip roads. Traffic which wishes to continue west bound on the A206 cannot get through either. A new bridge has been built over the tunnel approach for busses only, which could have carried west bound vehicles to the A206. A total waste of time and effort!

Myself and my colleagues on occasions have had to queue for in excess of 2 hours to get out of our car park in Anchor Boulevard ! Let alone get any where near the tunnel approaches.

I believe there are several problems to be resolved.

1. Traffic coming down to the tunnel toll booths is very restricted when they join the main flow. Even when the North bound M25 is flowing reasonably, we still have to queue.

2. There are no facilities for Dart-tag users to get across to where there used to be booths for us!! Or where the lanes for cars only are running freely.

3. Considering the number of LH drive lorries and cars I find it incredulous that nothing has been done to accommodate these vehicles. You only need two or three foreign lorry drivers having to get out of their cabs to pay at the booths to cause delays. Why cant there be specific lanes for these vehicles with collectors on both sides of the lane?

4. Early in the morning, 5.45am when I usually cross southbound, why do I have to queue from the southern pylon of the mainspan? Toll booths not manned and LH vehicle drivers getting out to pay.

5. Why as in other forms of transport, such as the railways do you not have penalties against bad service? If a rail traveller is delayed by late services he is entitled to compensation. Keeping thousands of vehicles queuing for hours on end is acceptable?? You should have a system whereby, if the tailbacks on the M25 or the surrounding roads pass a set distance or time period, the tolls should be opened to allow the back log to clear.

This particular area is very badly effected by the crossing. There are obviously no roads to the North. To the East we are funnelled round onto the M2, which is jammed by the crossing. To the South there is the M2 and to the East there is the crossing! We are trapped. And to make the situation even worse I understand that planning permission has been granted for more offices in Anchor Boulevard ! Unbelievable!! The infrastructure in the area cannot cope.

Something needs to be done!!

5.12.07

Editor: The words congestion and the Dartford Crossing certainly seem to go hand in hand. Although Anchor Boulevard is some way from us in Havering, the congestion caused by the Dartford Crossing is something we are all familiar with and an issue which I have highlighted for some time - especially so recently with the prospect of the standard charge increasing to £1.50 from April 2008.   What do other readers think? Why not e.mail your views to Have Your Say

Henk Bakker, Harold Wood:

DARTFORD TOLL – A WIN-WIN SCENARIO

The December issue of The Bulletin carried the surprising headline " 77% say scrap the Dartford toll ". If we polled turkeys and saw 23% voting for Christmas, we would want an explanation, wouldn't we?

I think, in this case, the explanation is that many people (a minority, admittedly) are realistic. They know that the government is not going to kiss goodbye to £50m of net revenues. They also know that the Green lobby, headed by David Cameron, would have a field day if the Government was seen to make car travel cheaper.

Having thought about the matter for 15 seconds, I believe there is a compromise solution that would satisfy all parties: raise the toll to £2 and charge it only for going North (through the tunnel).

This would allow a free flow of traffic across the bridge, easing congestion. The toll plaza for the tunnel could be extended to part of the redundant bridge plaza, increasing capacity. The total cost of a return journey - which, ultimately, all must be - would stay the same, pleasing the 20% who voted for this option. The operator would save on staff costs, going some way to recouping the 50p rise that is foregone under this scenario. A win all 'round. Only the Union of Toll Collectors could possible object.

But it is undoubtedly a far too sensible proposal for any political party to campaign for.

1.12.07

Editor: The difficulty I have with the 'toll' is that it is not a 'toll' but a congestion charge. The legal authority to charge a toll expired in 2003 when the full costs of the tunnels and bridge were eventually paid off.

The option of keeping the 'tolls' and charging a congestion charges (caused by the tolls themselves) is a bizarre twist of logic that serves only one purpose - to generate revenue for the Treasury.

I think the Green Lobby would be quite pleased if the toll charge was scrapped as it would put an end to many thousands of cars emitting thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions whilst they wait in a queue to pay a charge for 'congestion'.

I'm not sure about other proposals and I accept that the government are not likely to drop the charge. I suspect their way forward will be charging through 'image capture' (similar to the congestion charge) where vehicles will not wait in line but pay the 'toll' anyway. This way the Treasury get the revenue and the environment is less damaged.


RB, Upminster:

MORE INVESTMENT NEEDED FOR JUSTICE

With prisons at bursting point and the criminal justice system struggling to cope with existing demand, it is quite unbelievable that the government intend to impose £1 billion of cuts on the Ministry of Justice in the name of ‘efficiency'.

Instead of cutting resources, it would be better to provide increased investment in order to improve the courts service and to enlarge prison capacity, perhaps by releasing some of the £5.75 billion earmarked for the needless national identity card scheme.

24.11.07


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham (RA):

THE WAGES OF RESPONSIBILITY?

I recently read that a £1.3 million pay package (including £633,000 basic salary) has been awarded to Royal Mail Chief Executive, Adam Crozier. Defending the award, the Chairman of the Royal Mail, Allan Leighton, said that Mr Crozier ‘runs a bloody big company' and the remuneration still lags behind his competitors across Europe .

In terms of accountability, responsibility and magnitude, it makes you wonder how the annual salaries of European leaders such as Bertie Ahern (£217,000), Gordon Brown (£187,000), Angela Merkel (£183,000) and Nicolas Sarkozy (£168,000) are arrived at?

6.11.07


Anon, Upminster:

CLEAN UP NEEDED AT HALL LANE PARK

I live close to the park in Hall Lane, Upminster and regularly take both my granddaughter and dog for a walk there.  On a Sunday after the football/Rugby teams have left, the rubbish left behind in the park is disgraceful and it is also dangerous with lots of broken glass lying around.
 
A solution would be for the person responsible for booking these pitches to also become responsible for the disposal of the rubbish left behind.  If this does not work, then fine the club and if this does not work, ban them from booking the pitches.
 
There are also the inconsiderate people on a Sunday who park with their wheels on the pavement so you cannot get pass with a buggy.  Where are the 'parking wardens' and the council spy car? 

2.11.07

Editor: Parking enforcement certainly takes place in this vicinity over weekends, as several ‘ticketed' motorists who have contacted me in the past can vouch for. In terms of hirers' responsibility, I shall check the conditions and report back.


SK, Emerson Park:

MENACE OF RED POST CARTS

I've noticed in recent weeks that the Post Office has taken to leaving its red carts attached to lamp posts in a number of roads in my area. I've seen about five of them in various locations around Emerson Park!

Not only are they unsightly for residents, but the one where I live, in Rayburn Road has been there for about 2 to 3 weeks and is causing an
obstruction being in the middle of the pavement. I've reported it to Havering Council who have said that they'll contact the Postmaster. That
was a week ago.

Is this acceptable?

17.10.07

Editor: A similar e.mail has been received from a resident in Stanley Road, Hornchurch. We have written to the Royal Mail asking for an explanation and will report back.


Jeffrey Casciani-Wood, Cranham:

A QUESTION OF ENFORCEMENT

I have just received my copy of the Bulletin and consider it to be a great magazine.

There are three points I would like to raise.

1. Since the introduction of payment for parking at the Front Lane carpark, Cranham it is noticeable how deserted it is when it used to be very full. To compensate one finds it difficult to find any where to park along the junction of Front Lane and Moor Lane with cars often parked on the corners making it very difficult for the 346 bus to turn that corner.

2. Is there anything that can be done about the selfish idiots who park in the bus bay outside Tescos? Not only do they often take up the and of the bay where it is double yellow klined but there are regular parkers on the end outside Tescos where the white zig zag lines are. These are for the pedestrian crossing and it is illegal to park on them. Could it be arranged to have a PCSO standing there to hand out a few fines an points on the licence. Very often the 248 bus has to stop in the middle of the road to take on elderly passengers completely blocking the fairway until all are boarded.

3. Despite the fact that there are a number of fixed rubbish bins (including one set there by Tescos) in the village centre there are stll litter louts who just drop everything just where they stand. Why?


4.10.07

Editor: a) The parking enforcement depatrment have been alerted to this pattern of parking since charging became operational in Cranham. I shall contact them again.

b) Tesco - I spoke to the police about this and in a typical month about about 6 tickets given out for parking on the zig zag lines. Parking on single and double yellow lines is carried out by council parking enforcement officers. Not alot of tickets I know, but if we had a PCSO standing there for long periods of time no-one would park there - but is this a good use of the police reources? I think we should be looking toward CCTV enforcement which is very effective. The site of the 248 bus stop o/s Tesco has been the subject of much debate in the last few years. I do think that greater enforcement would make this stop alot more accesible.

c) It is always annoying to see people drop litter without consideration, there is legislation in place to fine the culprits but catching the offenders in the act is another


matter!!

MS, Upminster:

TRAVELLING SHOWMAN HQ PLANNING APPLICATION

With regard to this application (P1708.07) I have forwarded my objections to the planning office. Lets hope we can stop this as it will lead to many local residents being very unhappy with remaining in the area.

I am writing to express my, and many of Upminster's residents deep concern regarding this application. It will place unbearable strain on the existing infrastructure of the area and also impact on local schools, refuse collection services, policing, etc. We also all have serious concerns regarding sanitation arrangements for this application .

It is totally out of keeping for a semi- rural area and this land should be kept as green belt land. If this application is passed what hope is there for the rest of our green areas?

Travelling Showmen will also have large vehicles which will place pressure on our already congested roads and will add to the noise and pollution where, in a borough which is attempting to raise its "green" profile seems complete hypocrisy.

This application will bring nothing of good to Upminster and its surrounding areas and the local residents are totally opposed to it, and it is hoped the planning permission will be totally rejected.

1.10.07

Editor: There has been a huge response to this application and the important points raised above have been consistently made. Objections can be lodged by visiting havering.gov.uk/planning - please be sure to quote the Planning Application number.


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham (RA):

BEWARE CRIME STATISTICS

Recent figures published indicate falling numbers of crime in the borough. Whilst that is a very welcome trend, the only reservation I have is that the figures have been derived from the British Crime Survey.

The British Crime Survey compiles statistics from a survey of 37,000 householders. What is interesting is that the figures exclude all crimes against children (u16), all crimes against commercial victims, shoplifting, crimes against public sector property, drug offences and all murders. What is left is hardly the most comprehensive set of statistics.

As is often the case with statistics, the figures often mean more to the people compiling the information than those to whom it is aimed at. As we live in target driven culture, the reality of crime and the fear of crime can be lost in a fog of statistics and performance indicators, with the real challenge of maintaining law and order overshadowed by the need to satisfy targets and statistical returns.

The considerable resources employed in producing masses of statistics may be better diverted into recruiting more police officers on our streets.

29.9.07

Editor: What do readers think? Why not e.mail your views to Have Your Say


VB, Cranham:

RE-TEST FOR ELDERLY DRIVERS

Like Andy Smallbone, I have seen some awful driving by elderly drivers, who clearly should have given up driving and taken to traveling by bus or taxi long ago. One of the worst things is that they dither along at well below the speed limit, when there is nothing in front of them, causing a line of very frustrated drivers behind them. Driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as driving too fast, especially on motorways.

Older drivers may have many years of driving experience, but experience has to be balanced with the inevitable effects of ageing.

In many older drivers sight, hearing and judgment of speed and distance are not quite as sharp as when they were younger. Reaction times eventually slow significantly in the elderly. These are all vital factors in driving and they often deteriorate very gradually, so the driver may not be immediately aware of the full extent of the change. It is usually the sons and daughters of elderly drivers who realise that their parents should no longer be behind the wheel of a car as they have become a danger to themselves, other drivers and pedestrians.

Many elderly drivers haven't had their eyes tested for many years to check if they are up to the standard for driving, i.e. you must be able to read a vehicle number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres (67 feet - about five car lengths) in good daylight. As of September 2001 all drivers had to be able to read the new style number plates from a distance of 20 metres (66 feet). I know of one 90 year old gent who was found to be blind in one eye and only had 20 per cent vision in the other eye, yet was still driving! The dents and scrapes on his car were evidence of his appalling eyesight. He was lucky he didn't kill himself or someone else. The onset of cataracts, common in the elderly, can seriously affect vision, especially at night.

Often older drivers haven't read a copy of the Highway Code since they first learned to drive. The most recent edition was published in 2004 and contains nearly 300 paragraphs of rules and advice, plus many pages of the latest road signs, markings and signals. A new edition is in the pipeline and will probably be published next year.

Most elderly people are on some type of prescribed medication and often this can (unbeknown to them) affect their ability to drive safely.

As a middle-aged driver and member of the Institute of Advance Motorists, I am somewhere in the middle of the teenage boy-racers and the elderly drivers. I have encountered some frightening driving by the elderly and sincerely hope that compulsory re-testing is introduced for all motorists once they reach the age of 70. If they are still as good at driving as they think they are, then they will have nothing to fear from a re-test, which will also give them reassurance as to their abilities.

Organisations such as the Guild of Experienced Motorists (GEM) can arrange for driver assessments or a driving instructor can check your driving and make suggestions.

Having to give up driving is a terrible blow to the elderly, as they feel their independence is being taken away, but it can often work out cheaper to sell the car and use taxis instead. This also eliminates the worry of maintaining and running a car and could save a life.

11.9.07


Andy Smallbone (aged 35 and a half), Cranham:

YOUNG DRIVERS NOT ALL BOY RACERS

In response to the article by Terry Matthews accusing the DVLA of ageism and which criticises "younger" drivers, I would like to point out that I have driven many thousands of miles without incident. In fact, in 2yrs as an engineer I covered over 80,000 motorway miles and I have been driving since I was 18 (17yrs).

Like everything there is a small minority of younger drivers who are idiots but on the other hand there is also a lot of older drivers who can be just
as dangerous. I had an incident a year ago when I was going around M25/A127 roundabout when an older driver pulled out right in front of me and only due to my own quick reactions was able to stop him smashing into the passenger side of my car – and then just looked totally shocked to see me and shrugged.

In response to the quote: "It is not the elderly driver who drives on your back bumper at 70+ mph. It is not the elderly driver who swerves in and out
of traffic at 70 mph on trunk roads and motorways. It is not the elderly driver who drives like a lunatic down country roads." Your right, it's the
elderly that dither in the right hand lane of a dual carriageway at 50mph causing massive queues behind them even though they could pull over to the left hand land where there are no cars. It's often the elderly that dither at roundabouts and junctions to pull out because their reaction times are slower.

Believe me I have nothing against the elderly... my parents are both in their late 60's and I will be classed as elderly myself soon enough, but the
fact remains older people, although may have more experience in driving, have slower responses and are more likely to have vision issues and therefore need to be tested more frequently, unless they are prepared to hold their hands up and call time on their licence when they can tell they are not fit to drive anymore. In summary I welcome the DVLA's proposals.

We all have to remember that driving is a privilege....

7.9.07

Editor: I think it is fair to say that examples of inconsiderate driving are not confined to a particular age group but span the ages. It is interesting to remember that the threshold for passing the driivng test in the UK is one of the highest in the world and only 43% of candidates pass first time.


LC, Upminster:

DAMYNS HALL AERODROME

I read recently in The Bulletin that some people are concerned about the recent increase in the amount of planes doing acrobatics, etc, around this
airfield. It might put their minds at rest to know that I think that these planes were taking part in the Red Bull flying competition which took place along the Thames near the Dome recently, and that they had to do 'qualifying times' etc, in order to take part.

I must admit, I had a fright when I saw, as I thought, a plane plummeting to earth, only to pull up at the last minute!! Then my son explained what was going on. It would have been better if those involved had, perhaps, advertised
what was going to happen in advance. I hope this helps [and is all that's
going to happen!!].

6.9.07

Editor: Thanks very much for that.


DG, Upminster:

PAVEMENT ENCROACHMENT

It would seem that the traders in Corbets Tey Road are increasing their frontage by encroaching on the paved walk-way. My concern is:
Have they permission to do this? If so, are they paying an additional rate? How much farther into the paved area are they going to encroach?

Already a shopkeeper close to a bus stop causes obstruction and the latest encroachment is from a display of plants further down. This latest obstruction extends at least three metres into the paved area.

4.9.07

Editor: This is an issue that was raised by Cllr Pat Mylod (RA, Upminster) at the last Council meeting. It was agreed this was a concern and the relevant scrutiny committee is to address the matter.


LN, Havering:

HORSEBOXES IN LOW EMISSION ZONE

I am writing with regards to the Low Emission Zone proposals that are due to come into operation in February 2008. I own a horsebox that will fall into the category of the low emission zone charging. I am very upset and angry at the proposals, of course I am aware of climate change and the need to comply and I do all I can to keep my family's carbon footprint to a minimum, but I cannot stress enough how this will affect 99.9% of horse owners around our area. The majority of horse owners do not use their horse boxes on a regular basis and to pay the proposed £200 to travel a short distance into the M25 area would crucify us.

I don’t know if you are aware but Upminster Riding Club, which has been established for the past 40 years is closing this year, the reason being is that their shows are held at Harwood Hall Equestrian Centre in Upminster, this venue would fall into the zone and the organisers of the club know that people just cant afford to travel the half a mile inside the M25 to be able to compete, no entries to a show means no show! Another Venue would be Aldborough Hall in Goodmayes, which again comes inside the Zone, this will probably be another riding establishment that will soon close its doors to competitors & may even close altogether if transporting horses to and from the yard is going to cost £200 per time. There is also a yard in Rainham, Eastminster School of Riding, which I’m sure will also be affected by the changes. These are just three riding establishments that I mention; there are so many more that will be crucified by the proposals.

The only option for horse owners to transport their horses will soon be to buy a 4x4 & trailer, surely this would defeat the object of trying to lower emissions as there will be more 4x4's on the road? The other option for horse owners will be to buy a new horse box which falls into the Euro 3 category (around £15k +), generally this is vehicles from 2000 OR if a vehicle is older and is able to be converted to Euro 2 category, I have been advised that an approximate cost would be £4000 (hardly an amount which an everyday person can afford). I am told that my lorry is not eligible for conversion as it is a 1985 model.

I am therefore asking for the use of non commercial horse boxes to be exempt from the charge, even an exemption at weekends as the current congestion charge operates would be fair, as most events are weekends only.

Horse riding is a fantastic sport and what a shame it would be to lose an important part of our leisure industry inside London, Livery Yards and Riding schools will just not be able to survive, Horse Riding in London will soon cease to exist if this charge goes ahead. With the 2012 Olympics coming to London, I would have thought that encouraging young people to take up sports such as horse riding would be a priority, with no more riding establishments in London, this will be one sport that I guess Londoner's will not have a chance to take part in.

Please help support the equestrian industry in London.

21.8.07

Editor: The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) will be introduced from 4th February 2008 and will impact on heavy motorised horseboxes (over 12 tonnes) from that date. For lighter motorised horseboxes (between 1.205 and 3.5 tonnes) the enforcement starts in October 2008 and for all motorised horseboxes from January 2012.

There are few options for those affected by the legislation other than modifying vehicles, upgrading to newer vehicles or paying the charge (£200).

There has been an extensive consultation carried out in respect of the LEZ which the Mayor of London summarised in May 2007. It was interesting to note that owners of specialist showman’s vehicles would be provided with a 100% discount, Ken Livingstone conceded that the numbers would be relatively few and their options to upgrade/modify would be very restricted. Based on that principle I would have thought that specialist nature of a horsebox would at least warrant a discount.

I’m not sure if there were any representations regarding horseboxes during the consultation period, but I am happy to get a view from the GLA.


Alex Donald, Havering:

TROOPS OUT NOW - HAVERING PUBLIC MEETING

I've just read in our local Recorder of the tragic death of another British soldier in Iraq. The boy was from Romford, he played the drums in his local Royal British Legion band and was only 22-years-old.

There is so much anger and disillusionment among the people of Havering with this government and their policies of war and destruction. In Romford, I've collected hundreds of signatures for a petition to bring our troops home and have talked to many people in this area who share the same passion that I hold against this illegal and disastrous war.

This is why I believe we, the people of Havering, deserve to have our voices heard.

I've organised a public meeting to unite everyone in this borough in our opposition to this war and our determination to stop this government putting any more lives at risk by slavishly continuing to submit itself to US foreign policy.

I invite you all to attend this meeting which will be held at Wykeham Hall, Romford on Wednesday 19th September from 7pm to 8.30pm.

Guest speakers will include Rose Gentle, co-founder of Military Families Against the War (MFAW) and Lindsey German, convenor of Stop the War Coalition (StWC)."

17.8.07


JP, Hornchurch:

FLYING THE FLAG FOR ALL?

AOL News today: "The (Scottish) Prime Minister's plan to raise the Union flag on public buildings every day WILL NOT APPLY TO SCOTLAND, Jack Straw assured the SNP earlier this month".

More proof, if needed, that only the English are expected to fly the Union flag!

29.7.07


Anon, Hornchurch:

IT'S ALL BRITISH!!

My two pence on the flag issue in your letters section: when I swore in to become British, they didn't tell me whether I was English, Scottish, Welsh
or Northern Irish. My certificate just says I'm British (and I'm very proud to be so)! I'm all for flying both the British flag and the English flag at
the Town Hall.

24.7.07


Rikrok, Havering:

KEEP THE FLAG FLYING

I think it's right to fly both the Union Flag and the St Georges Cross above the town hall (Letter,10 July). We are still a part of the United Kingdom as are Scotland and Wales. I'm sure Gordon Brown's intention is that the Union Flag is also flown in Wales and Scotland too as well as their own flags. Besides which, the Union Flag is too great a flag to lose. Keep it flying I say.

19.7.07

Editor: Any other views from readers? E.Mail your comments to Have Your Say


JP, Hornchurch:

FLY THE FLAG?

Our new (Scottish) P.M. wants us all to fly the Union Flag. What a joke! Why should that flag fly above Romford Town Hall when it does not fly over any Scottish or Welsh Town Halls? This is spin which desires the English to be British but does not expect the Scots or Welsh to do likewise. Beware, dear reader, we are being conned. We are expected to subsidise those two nations with blank cheques even though they do not want to be united with us. Fly the Cross of St. George Flag over our Town Hall but not the Union Flag because the 'Union' is over! I have both Scottish and Welsh ancestors but consider myself to be English, and not 'British', because this is where I was born (in the east end of London: how about home rule for Cockneys flying the Flag of West Ham United?)

10.7.07

Editor: What do readers think, should the flag of St George be flown or the Union Jack - or both? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


GB, Upminster:

POLICE STATION WELL HIDDEN?

I would like to comment on the new "police station" that has opened in Corbets Tey Road. There has been much fanfare etc in the local press and in the bulletin surrounding it's opening. However if you were not aware of this, you would hardly know that it is indeed a police station. In fact at first glance it appears to be an extension of Corals the bookmakers, as it has the same colour fascia!

I noticed today that there is a small 3" x 9" sign saying POLICE at the bottom of the window but again it isn't exactly prominent. Also there is no other information displayed as to it's usage apart from a sign advising that the place is only open between 9 - 5 Monday to Friday, weekend trouble makers take note!

It doesn't exactly welcome people in, or even suggest what they can do at the station. Come on, make a bit more of an effort and advertise it's use, as it may even be useful!!!

8.7.07


BT, Upminster:

EUROPEAN TRAVEL INSURANCE

In the July edition of the ‘Bulletin’ newsletter there is an extensive article on travel insurance. However, no mention is made of the fact that if your journey is to an E.U. country, you as a British Citizen have automatic access to that countries health Services and presumably need no additional travel insurance. It may be commercially inconvenient to those who sell travel insurance, and indeed I have found resort travel reps. reluctant to discuss this issue. Some have even denigrated the level of health service provided locally. Yet in this country our health service often suffers by comparison with other E.U. countries and indeed our N.H.S. have in the past sent patients abroad for operations. So, do we need travel insurance for time spent in other E.U. countries? Perhaps you would be good enough to cover this aspect in another article on the subject. I for one , would be most grateful.

5.7.07

Editor: While the EHIC card will cover emergency treatment and such like, travellers to Europe are still advised t obtain travel insurance. For example the card will not cover any transportation home (repatriation) or expenses for relatives; accommodation costs etc. should an emergency occur. It will not cover loss of luggage or other personal items. It is also important to remember that treatment covered will be the same as that received by locals, which can vary considerably among EU member states.


MK, Upminster:

SCHOOL RUN TRAFFIC JAMS

When is something going to be done regarding the cars parked outside Coopers School between 3pm & 4pm. You never see a traffic warden there?

1.7.07


CB, Cranham:

SAVE OUR BACK GARDENS FROM PROPERTY DEVELOPERS

The recent trend for property developers to focus on back gardens and green corridors for development is a real concern to all of us. This practice owes much to the last Conservative Government who first classified back gardens as 'brownfield' land and then to Labour who put the definition into planning rules.

Developers realise the profitability of building on ‘back gardens’ rather than, say, a disused chemical works as the infrastructure of roads and services are already in place and by building small plots it avoids much of the criteria to include affordable homes.

Whilst our back gardens are given the same status as an old industrial estate, so it leaves local planning authorities with little room for refusal in respect of proposals from property developers.

At the current rate of development, it is estimated that green space the equivalent of 2,755 Wembley pitches will be wiped out by 2016.

In order to protect our back gardens and green corridors from this erosion, the government should change existing planning policy and reclassify our back gardens as Green Belt land.

22.6.07


Mr & Mrs C, Upminster:

WELL DONE AT UPMINSTER PARK

Hi, firstly we really love receiving "The Bulletin", it really keeps us informed of whats going on in our area. Secondly we were hoping to read in this months Bulletin about how wonderful our park in Upminster has been looked after. The workers and volunteers have worked extremely hard and are still working very hard everyday to keep this park looking great! even the vandals graffitti is not getting to them...the vandals spray all over the park, and the workers paint over it! its about time we stood up to the vandals...as a tax payer I like to see how my money is being spent...you must agree the park is one of the most important places in Upminster for families and friends to socialise.....WELL DOWN THE VOLUNTEERS AND WORKERS OF UPMINSTER PARK!! (I wonder if there are any plans for video cameras in the park).

7.6.07

Editor: Agreed - well done to all concerned! Whilst CCTV cameras are to be installed in Upminster this year, there are no plans at present to install cameras in the park.


DM, Harold Wood:

WOMEN GPs IN HAROLD WOOD

Further to the letter from AA (Lack of women GPs in Harold Wood, May 2), I waited almost four months hoping a women doctor would join our surgery in Gubbins Lane. Finally had to give in and see a male doctor, nothing against male doctors but some women matters are more comfortably discussed with a female doctor. I cannot believe there are not any female doctors applying for jobs in this area. I do hope this gets resolved very soon as I think there is a great need.

4.6.07


Lois Amos, Upminster:

GOOD NEWS FOR NORTH STREET HALLS PROJECT

Regarding the North Street Halls Project (news), how wonderful to hear some good news for a change! Congratulations to everyone who has been campaigning and working together in the community to save, re-use and promote this charming piece of old Hornchurch and such a valuable piece of our history.

How I just wish that places like the Boyd Hall in Cranham and the little Victorian School on the right of the road leading up to the Roller Ball from Collier Row, could be rescued as well.

Conservation and re-use of these important historical buildings is the way forward - not fast food joints and pulling them down to build yet more 'apartments'! No wonder young people don't feel they belong anywhere and we seem to have a 'lost tribe' in our midst - are we all losing our connections and respect for our history and past and our sense of place within the modern world and our local community?

By the way can anyone tell me what is happening in North Street to the little cottages that were so important in the care of the injured soldiers at Waterloo? Has an estate agents/ developer purchased the whole of that side of North Street?

29.5.07

Editor: Saving our cultural heritage from the ravages of progress is something we should all be concerned about. Whilst blocks of flats may come and go, real heritage is something that, once gone, cannot be resurrected. Can anyone help Lois with the enquiry regarding the cottages in North Street. Please e.mail 'Have Your Say' and I shall pass on.


Terry Matthews, Hornchurch:

KEEP HORNCHURCH FC FOR HORNCHURCH

I and others are very concerned about recent news regarding the apparent blatant discrimination against Hornchurch FC to the benefit of yet another Romford organisation i.e. Romford Borough FC.

To force Hornchurch FC to share the ground with Romford FC and the athletics is nothing short of stupidity. If this is allowed to happen Hornchurch FC, after overcoming all their problems in the past, face being kicked out of the league they so successfully got promoted to this season. Hornchurch FC kept this stadium going when all others deserted it, in fact it faced closure with housing being built on the site. Romford FC should stay in the Romford area.

I am sure that there are other sites in the Romford area to accommodate them. What would they do if they changed their home ground, change their name to Upmin ster FC?

This is apparently yet another blatant case of discrimination by the Romford clique? (a similar organisation exists in Italy,well known throughout the world!). Local people do not want the constant disruption that would occur if two football teams were using the stadium, even without the athletics. Instead of league matches alternative weekends they would have them every weekend. There would be more evening training sessions which would double the noise and light pollution.

It is about time that those residents living outside the Golden Triangle that Romford Councillors assumes it is, actually were considered worthy of the same attention showered on Romford.

27.5.07

Editor:Showdown talks with the FA and Council officals were due to take place last week, we shall provide an update asap.


Cllr Barbara Matthews, Hcton Ward:

SAY NO TO CAR APRKING CHARGES ACROSS THE BOROUGH

Dear Editor, well done on the excellent work done by yourself with the petition on charges for the 2012 Olympics. We, i.e. Havering, now need you to do something similar with regard to the heinous decision by this Council to introduce it's new Parking Policy. Not only will this will affect every driver in Havering, including our disabled community, but also those who may not be motorists but live in a road with waiting restrictions. I'll bullet point the main items below:-

1. Car Park Charges in all Council Car Parks in the Borough. So much for the Administration's weasley words regarding regenerating our smaller shopping centres!

2. No waiting restrictions in roads around any of these car parks being extended to include Sundays. Where do these residents' friends and families park if they visit during the weekend?

3. Charging our disabled drivers for parking in Council Car Parks.

4. Charging our disabled drivers to have a blue badge - obviously it's a privaledge to be immobile hence a fee!

5. Disc Parking (an excellent scheme) to be replaced by Pay and Display along our roads.

6. Residents Parking Permits to increase by 50% in price.

I could go on but space is tight. I'll leave it to you to offer Havering's residents an opportunity to petition this Council to rethink these dreadful
proposals.

11.5.07

Editor: I have formulated a petition and urge ALL readers to sign and pass on. There will also be plenty of paper petitions around the borough. The Residents' Association is firmly oppossed to these proposals and recognise the need for free car parking to support our loacl traders. PLEASE CLICK HERE OR VISIT OUR HOME PAGE TO SIGN.


AA, Havering:

NO NOTICE FOR DIGGING UP!

There was a knock at my door this morning (10.5.07), it was Morrisons (contractors to Transco). Apparently they are replacing the gas main in our street and may need to dig up our driveways! "I don't know where you are going to put your cars", he said looking at the two cars on my double drive. They are very sorry but Transco haven't sent the letters informing us of this work yet! A 'boss' was meant to come and speak to us today but it is 4.45pm and no-one has appeared.

Our cul-de-sac is busy enough at the best of times but today has been a nightmare, no street parking, the entrance to the road being dug up, people trying to turn around in their cars, etc.

Surely Transco legally have to give us written warning of work they wish to carryout on our property?

Has any other street had this problem?

11.5.07

Editor: Do readers have similar accounts? E.mail Have Your Say.


TR, Upminster:

FUTURE OF UPMINSTER CLINIC

I felt compelled to write regarding Upminster clinic. The idea that it may be closing is awful! I had heard rumours, but when I asked my Health Visitor she said that they had not heard anything.

I believe this is a vital facility for the community. A year ago I gave birth to my daughter. During my pregnancy I saw the midwife at the clinic & had bloodtests there by appointment so I didn't have to queue at hospital. Following her birth the Health Visitors (HVs) based there were wonderful! (Cutbacks in HVs is another issue!). They ran 10 talks for new parents on topics of great interest, encouraged us to socialise & make friends so we were not isolated (in fact us mums still meet for coffee & the occasional meal).

HVs run 2 clinics a week to weigh babies and discuss any problems you or your baby may have. They have been a lifeline for me and my friends. They are always friendly, reassuring & comforting. When I was going through a tough time the HVs & nursery nurses were great. Even the receptioninst was supportive and always greets me and my daughter warmly. I could go on...

The clinic also provides a dental service amoung others. I am able to walk there, which is a plus. If it is closed I guess we'd have to go to Cranham Clinic, which is lovely & new, but we'd have to drive (parking is awkward there, I've tried). They have recently cut 1 of the HV clinics at Cranham, so is there more need/demand in Upminster?

US MUMS ARE NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT CLOSING, WHAT CAN WE DO? SAVE UPMINSTER CLINIC!

11.5.07

Editor: At the Upminster Area Committee on 30th April held at Upminster School, the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Havering PCT were asked a direct question as to whether the Upminster Clinic was to close, their response was categoric 'that there are no plans to close this clinic'.


MM, Upminster:

PICK UP THAT DOG POO!

I was helping a relative of mine, who backs on to the Hall Lane Playing fields near to the Hall Lane Road, with her garden when we found 12 bags of discarded 'dog Poo' that had obviously been thrown into the garden. I have contacted the Parks division to see if a little bin could be placed near to the Hall Lane end of the field. My reason for contacting yourselves is to see if this is to remind dog walkers that these bags should either be put in the litter bins or taken home not thrown in peoples gardens. My relative has three children, so this is not very hygenic particularly with the warm weather we are now having. She also has a dog and like most considerate people take the bags home with us.

5.5.07

Editor: There is no excuse for dog owners to allow their dogs to foul public space without taking on the responsibiliy of disposing of the evidence. The Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, allows authorities to designate any land in their area as poop scoop areas without any requirement to provide signs or dog waste bins. The penalty for not clearing up dog fouling can be up to £1,000 if taken to court, but there is also provision for a fixed penalty scheme with a fine of £50.


J.Prestor, Hornchurch:

RE: UPMINSTER POLICE STATION TO CLOSE:

I am so old that I can remember when, up until the late 1980's, most Metropolitan Police Staions were manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week by bona-fide Police officers: normally a Sergeant with a PC in reserve plus a civilian telephonist. Now we are to be 'served' by Community Officers, who do not have the powers of true Constables, in a disused shop from 9am until 5pm only Monday until Friday. If this is 'Service' then I would rather go back to the days when the Metropolitan Police was a 'Force'.

4.5.07

Editor: Policing methods have changed dramatically over the past 25 years, but the recent introduction of ward neighbourhood police teams has generally been welcomed across Greater London. There was a time, about 5 to 10 years ago when it was unusual to see any kind of police officer on the beat - at least now there is an increased presence on our streets. However, the best way to tackle crime is to get more fully trained police officers onto our streets rather than being diverted by masses of paperwork and form filling.


AA, Harold Wood:

LACK OF WOMEN GPs IN HAROLD WOOD

I have discovered that the Gubbins Lane surgery has 5 male GPs but no female GP, Oak Road surgery has 2 male GPs but no female GP, this gives a total of 7 male GPs for Harold Wood but no female GPs.

With a total female population in Harold Wood of about 5,000, is there anything that can be done to address the situation and even remedy it ?

I have complained to Havering Primary Care Trust asking the above question
but I received an inadequate response (with grammatical errors). I was informed that there are female GPs in Harold Hill, which wasn't answering my question. With a response like that, I thought what's the point of pursuing the matter; I'll only be complaining about the "complaints process" next !

It appears that unless the Gubbins Lane surgery and the Oak Road surgery
recruit a female doctor, then females living in Harold Wood will either have to accept male GPs or change.

So, to conclude:

  • Harold Wood Hospital closes, losing services such as blood testing etc.
  • Harold Wood doesn't have female GPs.Harold Hill now has a Health Centre.
  • Harold Hill has female GPs.
  • Harold Hill awarded £ billions.

Is Harold Wood now part of Harold Hill ?

2.5.07


Anon, Havering:

YOB DAMAGE DOES SO MUCH HARM

Last week my dear old Land Rover 110 was attacked by drunken and probably drug fuelled yobs and, with a large piece of concrete, smashed the rear fixed window. Naturally, being on old vehicle the usual replacement company recommended by the Insurers cannot get hold of the glass of this type as it is an older vehicle. Now we have to search high and low to get a second hand replacement or equivalent. The vehicle is used for my land based work and is now, consequently temporarily incapable of being secured, which means it, and its contents are vulnerable to theft and until it can be mended it can't really be used or left anywhere safely.

I am so sick and tired of all this type of behaviour, and I really wish that the culprits could suffer the stress, worry and inconvenience and even loss of earnings that this stupid, mindless act will incur.

1.5.07

Editor: Acts of criminal damage such as this always create more harm than the obvious material destruction. Whilst conviction rates for this type of offence are not the highest, let’s hope that the police can track down the culprits and bring them to justice.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

WHAT A TIP!

The day before I read your article on fly tipping (27.4.07), an old towing caravan was dumped outside the entrance to Bedford's Park during Friday night/Sat morning. It had broken windows, stank to high heaven and was a really grotty van.

I would be interested to find out if anyone in Streetcare will investigate and do some 'forensic' enquiries and evidence taking to try and establish who had perpetrated this act. What will the Council do with the van? Will it be towed to another resting place? How will the Council have to dispose of this rather large piece of fly tipped rubbish! If it is left around it may be liable to an arson attack! How much will all of this cost the Council and ultimately us!

Editor: It was interesting to read the report by the ‘Countryside Alliance’ entitled ‘Tipping Point’. It calculates there were nearly 2.5 million incidents of fly tipping in 2005/06 which cost about £100 million to clear up. Whilst the dumping of an old caravan is unusual, the most common type of fly tip is the plain old black plastic bag, which makes up 63% of all incidents. With prosecutions/legal action making up just 1% of all fly tipping, it is enforcement which we need to improve. My next editorial will deal with this subject in greater detail.

30.4.07


NCB, Upminster:

PEOPLE POWER OVER GOVERNMENT DIKTATS

Why it that when politicians enter office that they seem to think that we should do what they say instead of them doing what we want ? The whole system of government has become dictatorial and needs reforming. I am sick and tired of being told what I should or should not do by these jumped up jacks in office and their officious minions.

Editor: There are few democracies in the world with the degree of centralism we have the the UK. If real power and decision making were devolved down to community levels there would be greater confidence in goverment and political administration.

23.4.07


J. Prestor, Havering:

'LIVING' AND 'LONDONER' WASTE

I agree with VB of Cranham that 'Living' is a gross waste of Council Tax and I suspect that it costs us much more than £100,OOO per year. 'The Londoner' is another abuse of our money as it appears only to perpetuate Red Ken's agenda (we should Unilaterally declare our Independence from the Inner London People's Republics and return to being an Essex Borough).

12.4.07

Editor: Our latest mini-poll (see home page) gives readers a chance to rate 'Living' magazine from Excellent to Scrap it - the results will be revealed in a few weeks time. The 'Londoner' cost around £3.8m per year - is this good value for money? Why not send in your views to 'Have Your Say'.


DS, Cranham:

Further to you article re: Freedom Travel Passes in the April '07 issue of 'The Bulletin', could you please clarify the information I have been given that you cannot use the pass within 15 minutes of alighting one bus and boarding another.

Seems very petty if this the case.

3.4.07

Editor: I have checked with London Councils, who run the Freedom Pass scheme, and I can absolutely assure everyone that no such restriction exists.

A Freedom Pass is available to anyone over 60 and provides free bus and tube travel between 9am and 4.30am from Monday to Friday, plus all day at weekends and on public holidays.

Disabled freedom pass holders can travel free at all times.


DS, Cranham:

Further to you article re: Freedom Travel Passes in the April '07 issue of 'The Bulletin', could you please clarify the information I have been given that you cannot use the pass within 15 minutes of alighting one bus and boarding another.

Seems very petty if this the case.

3.4.07

Editor: I have checked with London Councils, who run the Freedom Pass scheme, and I can absolutely assure everyone that no such restriction exists.

A Freedom Pass is available to anyone over 60 and provides free bus and tube travel between 9am and 4.30am from Monday to Friday, plus all day at weekends and on public holidays.

Disabled freedom pass holders can travel free at all times.

Jean Elliot, Queen’s English Society:

GRAMMAR AND SPELLING STILL IMPORTANT

"The Bulletin" is always full of useful information and I look forward to reading it every month. I've just read the latest issue and apologise for a
couple of criticisms, but I think they should be addressed.

SPELLING - On speeding, you talk about drivers worried about "loosing" their licences. That verb should be "losing". This is a common error these days, and it's a shame to see it in "The Bulletin".

PARAGRAPHING - Until recently newspapers, magazines, books and letter writers obeyed the rules that laid out how to begin new paragraphs.

Either one marked the beginning of a paragraph by leaving a vertical space after the one before, or one indented the first line of the new paragraph by a few spaces. I cannot understand why these time-honoured techniques have been abandoned and now you don't bother to mark the beginning of paragraphs at all, apart from pressing the return key. Admittedly, as you use justified text, one can see where new paragraphs are intended, but there is a loss of clarity.

3.4.07

Editor: As with all publications that follow a very tight timescale, there is always a chance an error will creep through, however the editor of "The Bulletin" makes every effort to remove these inaccuracies before going to print.


Dave Topping, Harold Wood:

MP SUMMER JOB

As our Members of Parliament are well paid and get 10 weeks summer recess holiday , what about 1 or 2 weeks work experience in their constituency? It could be "hands-on work in the community" jobs like managing the A&E reception desk at Queens Hospital or a Security Officer at our Harold Wood Co-Op.

31.3.07

Editor: A novel idea! What do other readers think? Should our MPs do a bit of 'community work' during the summer recess? Do they work hard enough as it is? Send your views to 'Have Your Say'.

MP, Upminster:

A LOAD OF RUBBISH!

In less than 3 weeks I have had to ring StreetCare to have rubbish sacks that have been dumped in Springfield Gardens, Upminster, removed. On Monday’s (when there is no local collection) and Friday’s sacks appear by the lamp post, trees and BT boxes. These places are at the Corbets Tey end of Springfield where there is only one house and they are not from there.

Each time I have to ring the council and they have to send someone out to clear up, this is obviously an expensive waste of council time and money.

The first week I left if for a few days to see if it would be collected, but the sacks were broken into by the animals and then lots of other large household waste was also dumped there.

Could a note be put in the bulletin/website pointing out this behaviour as I do not wish to spend lots of time on the phone sorting it out every week.

30.3.07

Editor: The guidelines about refuse collection are as follows; to ensure collection, bags should be places on the boundary of the property by 7 am on the day of collection.

It is important that bags are placed on the boundary of properties and not left with other residents waste and/or on grass verges, by a post or on the public highway (including footpaths). This is to ensure that waste collections do not cause litter/fly-tipping issues or impede access.


VB, Cranham:

THE COST OF 'LIVING'

I have just received the latest edition of "Living", the monthly community newspaper for Havering. What an utter waste of money this publication is. There's nothing in there that I haven't already read in the Romford Recorder or the two free newspapers I get regularly every week.

The edition I have just received is for March! Bearing in mind we are nearly at the end of March, everything in there is history. Just how much does this publication cost to produce for every household in the borough? Who delivers it and are they paid to do so?

26.3.07

Editor: The 'Living' newsletter goes out to some 95,000 homes across the borough at a cost of approximately 9p a copy. Over a year, that would be just over £100,000! What do you think? Is 'Living' a good read or could you do without? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Andy Smallbone, Upminster:

CRANHAM PAY & DISPLAY

So the council think that putting a pay and display is going to help raise funds? What are they doing with all the money they collect from my council tax? And what about the money to keep the machine powered and ensure staff check that people are buying tickets as well?

All this will do is make more people will park on the streets of an already hazardous junction as the council have just increased the cost of a pint of milk by a pound at least as 20 minutes is not long enough for you to do anything in the village!!

22.3.07

Editor: We have campaigned long and hard to keep this car park free, but the 'pay and display' is set to become effective from 2nd April. There is a further twist to all this, if not enough income is generated to fund the car park then the Council will have the option of giving back the land to London Underground after two years!


J. Smyth, Romford:

ANTI-SOCIAL CAR PARK

We are currently being driven to distraction by the use of the Asda/Apcoa carpark. From approximately 9.30 onwards it is used as a meeting place by youths, wheel spinning cars, playing football, with loud music booming so much the vibration can be felt in our living room! We have contacted the police on numerous occasions,spoken to the car park manager, the Mall manager, MPs and Asda. Before Asda arrived the car park was closed at night, now although the shops all close by 10 pm the car park remains open all night.

20.3.07

Editor: I have passed this on to our colleagues in the Romford Residents' Association.


Nicki, Havering:

ANOTHER POOL IS NEEDED

I agree totally with Andy Smallbone (Swimming Pool for Havering, 3.3.07), I think we should have been given a Swimming Pool to replace the Dolphin in the first place. Romford is now flooded with too many people, increasing the amount of people hanging about in the area instead of giving residents a better quality of life. Hornchurch Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre is always packed especially in the summer, a bigger version of that is what Romford needs.... not more flats!!

16.3.07

Editor: Whilst building and running Swimming Pools does not come cheap, what is the tide of opinion in favour of a new pool? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


VB, Cranham:

SPEED COUNTERS

In response to JH of Havering's letter "Why So Many Traffic Counters", I travel along Shepherds Hill daily and assume the traffic counters to be
checking the speed of traffic.

Some are placed just before the speed camera and some just after. I think they are to check the speed of the traffic before and after the speed camera, as most drivers slow down rapidly as they enter the camera zone and then accelerate quickly afterwards.

Maybe the council are thinking of putting speed humps/cushions in to maintain a slower speed along this stretch of road.

9.3.07


JH, Havering:

WHU SO MANY TRAFFIC COUNTERS?

What is happening on Shepherds Hill in the last couple of weeks? There are five, yes five, of those traffic counters have been installed in the 200 yards between the Shepherd & Dog pub and the bridge over the River Ingrebourne. Do whoever installs these really think that the numbers crossing each will be significantly different between each counter? Is it a plan to check-up on whether the residents travel East or West?

While thinking of recent change to the local roads, who thought of adding an extra refuge just East of the mini roundabout at the junction
of Squirrels Heath Road and Gubbins Lane? It's about ten paces from the existing refuge and far too close to the bus stop to make any sense at
all and no one is going to walk to the new refuge when the existing one is there.

10.3.07


CC, Hornchurch:

TROUBLE ON THE BUSES - LET THEM KNOW!

The trick to get anything done about anti-social behaviour on buses is to complain to London Buses in writing, giving the time, date, and the route you were travelling on.

London Buses is not unlike other areas of government that rates how "well" it is doing by the "low" number of complaints they receive. The more complaints, the more the statisticians tell London Buses that they HAVE to do something because they aren't doing so well, now are they? Squeaky wheel gets the oil! It's how the system works. Now get whinging to London Buses!!

8.3.07

Editor:A good comment, London Buses (or any other public service) can only investigate specific complaints if they have specific details.


Clare Ryan, Upminster:

KEEP SUNNINGS LANE GREEN BELT

As a resident of Sunnings Lane in Upminster I am strictly opposed to the proposal of building on the green belt land on Sunnings Farm and the surrounding area. This would bring total devestation to an area which at present is quiet and semi-rural with a lovely view of the fields surrounding.

We would have pollution and noise from extra traffic in the area, local infrastructure eg bus services, trains, doctors, schools to name but a few would struggle to cope. Think of all the wildlife that live in the area at present.

Our quality of life will also be reduced, please do not let this happen as unfortunately Upminster could end up just the same way as Barking and Dagenham, very run down.

7.3.07

Editor: Readers are invited to send their views on this matter to the Council, see the 'Urgent News' itemon the home page.


Brian Kelly, Haveirng:

ON THE BUSES

Travelling on buses in Havering has become a frequently uncomfortable and sometimes distressing experience, due to the uncontrolled behaviour of children/young teenagers, who "take over"the passenger area, with loud/offensive language, blaring radios, and noisy, invariably shouted mobile phone conversations being par for the course.

Bus drivers have no inclination to deal with this behaviour,and who can blame them.The only logical remedy is the reintroduction of conductors, but we will presumably be told that this is not cost-effective.What then is the answer?

5.3.07

Editor: Would the reintroduction of conductors be a popular move? Would passengers be willing to pay increased fares to fund them? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Andy Smallbone, Upminster:

SWIMMING POOL FOR HAVERING

Why shouldn't we have another one? I grew up in Basildon and we had a decent sized pool in Gloucester Park and its still there now and being used all the time (I'm 34 by the way).

Every school holiday I would spend most of the time there with friends. This might help get the kids of the streets and doing something other than hanging around outside shops and get them some decent exercise as well.

3.3.07

Editor:What do other readers think? Do we need another pool? If so, what size? How will it be paid for? Send your views to 'Have Your Say'.


Howard and Brenda Robertson, Upminster:

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS FOR UPMINSTER

We read with interest Mr. Ower's article in ‘The Bulletin’ regarding the poor display of Christmas lights in Upminster. Indeed, we called one of the Ratepayer councillors before Christmas to express our disappointment with the lights, particularly as the tree in the park that lends itself to being lit as a Christmas tree was not illuminated at all. We have since noted that there are lights dangling in the tree even now, rather exposed to passing vandals.

We believe that a good display at Christmas lifts everybody's spirits and can enhance Upminster's image considerably. Therefore, we are willing to make a modest cash donation towards some new lights, should there be general support.

We feel that there are many people in Upminster, both private residents and businesses who surely would be willing to do the same, especially if enough publicity is given to the cause. Of course, we would have to presume that the Council (or perhaps some other body) would be willing, and able, to mount the lights, notwithstanding the apparent "difficulties" with the new lamp posts.

3.3.07

Editor: A very generous offer! Christmas lights certainly do lift the festive spirit and the issue of funding is a thorny one. What do other readers think?


Mrs NC, Cranham:

GIVING WAY ON THE 248 BUS ROUTE

I feel I have to report an incident concerning a No.248 Blue Triangle bus on Sunday 25th February.

Whilst driving down Avon Road towards Front lane a 248 bus coming towards me pulled out past parked cars onto my side of the road so that I had to stop in front of him with nowhere to go. The bus driver folded his arms and through his shut window intimated that I reverse 50 yards back up Avon Road or alternatively drove on the pavement so that he could pass!

This is not the first time that I have witnessed or experienced dangerous and inconsiderate driving from the local bus drivers who often drive erratically and too fast.

I would be interested if you have received any other such reports from local residents as there would seem to be an issue with bus drivers' approach to safety.

2.3.07

Editor: I have contacted Blue Triangle and they said that they need the exact date and time of such matters before they can investigate. If readers have come across this and have kept a record, please contact me at Clarence.barrett@havering.gov.uk .


Richard Ford, Romford:

LET’S HAVE A SWIMMING POOL TO LAST

Firstly, congratulations on your website for keeping Havering up to date with events.

Secondly, I understand that a new swimming pool is being planned for Romford which is very good news. However, I also understand it will be only 25 metres which is not such good news. Is there sufficient interest to lobby for a longer larger pool? 25 metres is too small, it will very easily become overcrowded and its not long enough to allows learners to really have a good swim.

I think a decent swim requires a minimum of 33 metres, but with all the space available in Havering, and the Olympics coming to East London there's no reason not to have a proper 50 metre pool.

Too much 'public space is being taken out of public into private hands (eg flats all around Romford market and town centre), its time something
was given back to the people.

Romford has suffered for too long without a decent pool - the Dolphin was over elaborate and excessively costly, this time we should get it right and build a pool to last.

There are plenty of examples of cost effectively built larger pools, we should follow their lead.

1.3.07

Editor: What do readers think? Should we have a 33m or even a 50m pool in Havering? Send your views to Have Your Say.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

PROTECT OUR GREEN BELT

I urge people to view plans for the demise of our Greenbelt that can be viewed at Libraries and Mercury House and then ACT NOW before the matter is discussed at Council before the (9th March).

The Local Development Framework of the London Borough of Havering has assessed that there is adequate housing land available to meet the initial 5 years, plus further 10 year rolling London Plan for sub regional housing allocations WITHOUT encroaching onto our GREEN BELT! - and building on 'brownfield sites' (see the Land Use Protection (gardens) Bill that is currently ongoing as an EDM in Parliament) Development of our Green Belt is completely unnecessary and totally undesirable unless, of course, you are a 'developer '.

Surely common sense must tell us that the Countryside and our precious green spaces and the wildlife corridors of our gardens are vital to our health and welfare and that of our wildlife.

Also, being so near to the Thames and much of this land under possible threat from flooding, we cannot bury our heads in the sand and then moan when the developers have had their way.

Naturally they will all have made a fortune and will live in their big houses in the peaceful countryside miles away from the suburbs and Havering. We are creating modern day ghettos and leaving concrete jungles for our grandchildren and great grandchildren to inherit.

How can we hope to live with that on our conscience? Please, in the name of common sense and compassion, for our wildlife and green inheritance, raise comments and objections to MPs, Council Planners etc. 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone'.

28.2.07

Editor: Lois raises some very important issues; our green belt is a valuable asset not only to us but for our future generations. The views of residents is critical in this matter, please make them known.


Mrs H. Hasan-Richardson, Upminster:

CCTV FOR UPMINSTER

When I moved to Upminster 8 years ago I felt that I had found the perfect place to live. Family values, a delightful environment & of course The Bulletin (which is great!) to which I subscribe. However more recently I have felt increasingly concerned, & therefore despondant, about the amount of grafitti in the town centre & the current trend for ' destructively scratching' anything that is class such as shop windows & bus shelters.

I have grown to love Upminster but feel nothing but despair when I see the visual 'examples' of anti-social behaviour. When I first moved here The Bulletin regularly included articles about the possibility of installing CCTV but that has not happened. Surely this is now a must given that a once beautiful area is being damaged on a regular basis.

I still love Upminster but feel powerless to protect & maintain what makes it a delightful place to live. Where do we go from here?

25.2.07

Editor:You will be pleased to know that the Council have agreed to install CCTV at Upminster. There will be 7 cameras which will link up to the network control centre at Romford. The new cameras can record images 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with data stored on Digital Video Recorders. The scheme, which was agreed by Cabinet on 17th January 2007, is anticipated to be in place by December 2007.


John Smith, Havering:

TURN DOWN THE VOLUME!

Has anybody else noticed that we now seem to be suffering a rash of (what we used to call) "Boom Boys"?

These young people (usually lads wearing baseball caps) get themselves a car; fit it out with a high-powered music centre complete with a bass boost, and a go-louder exhaust pipe. They then cruise the streets making as much noise as possible, with the volume and bass turned high and with much revving in low gear.

Now, I'm all for a bit of high spirits now and then, and if these people wish to ruin their hearing then that's OK, but not at the expense of disturbing everyone else. They probably rely on getting away quickly before any bystander can note their details.

I cannot help but wonder whether the parents of these young men approve of this behaviour, and whether they care about the noise pollution caused. And what about their neighbours?

I seem to remember that not too many years ago the Essex Police came down very heavily on noisy vehicles, and I also wonder whether these cars carry proper insurance, seeing that the premiums are probably sky-high for being modified.

On another subject, I read in the press that the government proposes to re-value our homes for the Council Tax according to whether we live in a "quiet" area, or not.

If this comes to pass then bring it on. Let's have all the boom boys, and the yobbos, and the junkies et al, then we'll have a good excuse to move abroad where, it is said, old fashioned family and community values still hold sway.

21.2.07

Editor: Some strong views from Mr Smith – powers to deal with noisy cars is dealt with under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002, where officers have the power to seize and remove any vehicle that constitutes an offence or is being used to cause alarm, distress of annoyance to the public, on or off the road.


Keith Causer, Hornchurch:

WATCH OUT FOR OYSTER CHARGES

Having read the letter on Pre-Pay Oyster swipe cards I checked my card online. I found that an off-peak journey from Upminster to Heathrow, and back again two weeks later, were both charged £4 for entry and exit. A total of £16 for two £2 journeys.

On contacting them, the explanation was that a journey is limited to two hours only. The presumption is that a time difference of over two hours must have been two separate journeys and it is assumed that I didn't swipe out on my first journey and then didn't swipe in on the second, incurring two maximum fares. £12 is being refunded.

While this journey was exceptionally long how many other shorter journeys breach the time limit due to delays, etc. while travelling?

How many other people are unaware of this limit, as I was?

21.2.07

Editor: Well done for pursuing the matter and getting a refund. Are there any more ‘oyster’ experiences out there?


John Phillips, Havering:

CONSERVATION EYESORE

In respect of Colin Maston's recent letter about a "Cranham eyesore," this is located in Wantz Field which is part of the Cranham Conservation Area. The Council says it should "preserve and enhance the quality of the environment!"

12.2.07

Editor: Any more eyesors? Send your views to Have Your Say.


Rolf Jones, Havering:

CARE HOMES LATEST

With regards to David Atkins letter, I would just like to send a message of support to HAAHCH2 in its defence of human rights against the expediency of Havering Council. Living close to Marks Lodge I would welcome any information regarding this site and the current proceedings of the Appeal due to start on the 24th January following the Judicial Review decision in December 2006. This appeal has major implications regarding the quality of life in this Country.

11.2.07

Editor: On 30th January 2007the Court dismissed the appeal of the Claimants. The Claimants alleged that the human rights of the residents would be diminished by the transfer of Winifred Whittingham House and Elmhurst Lodge to the independent sector whilst the Council maintained that rights would continue to be protected. The Court found in the Council's favour on this point and the Claimants have not asked for permission to appeal further.

On the Claimants' second point, that care homes providing residential care on behalf of local authorities should be public authorities, which would enable residents to seek redress directly against the care provider for any Human Rights Act breaches. The Claimants were granted permission to appeal to the House of Lords on this point.


George Harrington, Harold Wood:

SIGNPOSTS TO HAROLD WOOD

I have lived in Harold Wood now for nearly forty years and so I should be accustomed to the useless and extravagant ways of Havering Council spending.

A few years back goodness knows how much money was spent on erecting ‘antique’ sign posts in the vicinity of the station and the shops. Most of the sites being indicated were clearly visible anyway. In a short space of time these were then dismantled and presumably scrapped.

The same thing is now happening again at the junction of Gubbins Lane and Squirrels Heath Road. For over a month now there has been incessant drilling and hammering while road humps have been built in Recreation Avenue and ‘antique’ posts erected at its junction with Squirrels Heath Road.

It is no doubt argued these are necessary for road safety reasons. Personally I think that this work is excessive but I am prepared to tolerate it if it ensures the safety of schoolchildren. However what I really object to is the use of not one but four signs at the entrance to Harold View to indicate that motorists are entering a 20 mph zone.

Street furniture at its best is ugly and intrusive but on this site I feel it is entirely unnecessary. If Havering Council has nothing better to do with their money perhaps they should consider refurbishing the toilets opposite Harold Wood station, repairing the footpath on the north-west corner of the Gubbins Lane /Squirrels Heath Road junction or better still capping the ever increasing community charges!

6.2.07

Editor: I am aware that many of these issues have already been picked up by our colleagues in the Harold Wood Residents’ Association which have featured in 'The Bulletin'. Look out for more features!


Colin Maston, Upminster:

TANGLED MESS OF DISTORTED IRON

I would like to make some comments about the tangled mass of distorted iron which is the residue of the warehouse fire located at the corner of THE CHASE and ST MARY'S LANE. Without exaggeration it must be the biggest eye-sore in Essex and certainly, in my opinion anyway, tops comments about the new Audi sign at the Bell Traffic Lights.

I would estimate that the iron (or steel) has been there for at least three years and nobody appears to be interested in removing it. Maybe I have got the wrong idea and that Prince Charles has examined it and declared it to be typical of how modern architecture should look!

Mind you, as a scientist, I am aware that given about five thousand years, the whole lot will collapse into iron oxide (i.e. rust). I doubt I shall see that day!

2.2.07

Editor: Any more suggestions for eye-sores in Essex? Why not e.mail ‘Have Your Say’.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

LETS TACKLE THE IT CLASS SYSTEM

I am very concerned about the fact that we are now quite locked into a 'Class System' not based on wealth, but on acquiring information and access to the internet. It seems to me that many of the elderly, poor and less advantaged people who do not have access to IT or the inclination and ability to access the Internet, will suffer now and in the future.

For example 30% of people over the age of 65 do not see anyone, friends etc at least (if at all) once a week. For many the local Post office, or shop forms their only form of regular social contact. This brings concerns about the accessibility to life's necessities.

What do your surfers, silver or otherwise, think?

30.1.07

Editor: What do readers think? Have we created an internet based ‘class division’ society? Is this simply the cost of progress? Are we becoming a less caring society? E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’.


GB, Harold Wood:

CONCERNS OVER HAROLD WOOD DOG TRAINING CENTRE PLANS

I am concerned about the current proposal to build a dog training centre in Harold Wood Park. This will consist of a one story building next to the tennis courts and 20 parking spaces. Why take a comercial business (currently in Harold Hill) and move it into a recreational area?

They are planning to run their classes in the evening, how then are they going to lock the park at dusk? will this lead to even more anti-social behaviour in the park after dark?

This wil also lead to an increase of noise and traffic in the park along with the safety issue's of all the children that use the park.

Apparently you only have till 1st February to log your objection with Havering Council Planning Office (based in Mercury House) which you should do if you have the same concerns!

18.1.07

Editor: I have passed this onto our Residents' Association colleagues in Harold Wood.


Tim Bailey, Upminster:

OYSTER SWIPE

I have recently found out, to my cost, that with the introduction of full fares, if you don’t swipe in/swipe out, and despite following procedures fully, the readers are sometimes faulty and cause these changes to be applied. In one instance this created a bill of £6 for a £2 fare. Refunds are possible by contacting Oyster Card, but Upminster does not have the facilities available directly to the public to check and the staff, at least in my experience, are reticent to help resolve/identify any issues that have occurred.

12.1.07

Editor: Click here for further info. https://transportforlondon.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/transportforlondon.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php


PO, Harold Wood:

HAROLD WOOD NEEDS DECENT TOILET FACILITIES

So Station Road, Harold Wood, is due for a face-lift. However, councillors tell us it is too expensive to refurbish the toilets, as they need to be steel clad. They are perfectly positioned for all, including commuters, those travelling onto Harold Hill or those faced with a walk to their home.

Our customers say forget the plant pots, seats, rocks and expensive block paving - just concentrate on the necessity and refurbish our toilets!

8.1.07

Editor: I have passed this in to our colleagues in the Harold Wood Residents’ Association who have an interest in this issue.


VB, Cranham:

BLOOD TEST SYSTEM HAS IMPROVED!

I have had completely opposite experiences to Mr GB of Harold Wood (see previous letter) of having blood tests done at Harold Wood Hospital and my new local Health Centre.

There was limited seating in the waiting area and a ticket system at Harold Wood Hospital. On one occasion I queued for over three hours, in fact, I took my ticket on arrival and when I saw just how many people were ahead of me and there was cramped standing room only, I went upstairs, had a chest x-ray, came back down and still had to wait!!

The service at the new Health Centre in Cranham, in my experience, is second to none. Yes, you have to phone up for an appointment, but I have been able to choose a time to suit myself and have always been seen ahead of my appointment time. In fact I have been in and out within a matter of five minutes.

Another problem at Harold Wood Hospital was finding somewhere to park as, unless you got there at the crack of dawn, you had to drive round and round waiting for a space to become available. I can now walk to my local Health Centre and be back home before I know it!

There are always two sides to every story, but I know which service I prefer.

6.1.07

Editor: Some good points made by VB, any other views out there? E.mail your opinion to Have Your Say.


Mr GB, Harold Wood:

BLOOD TEST WAITS

Do you remember the good old days when the elderly and disabled people in Harold Wood requiring a blood test by their GP would just go to Harold Wood Hospital and wait their turn for a few minutes? How convenient and civilised it was. Now the nearest hospital is Queens in Romford but ofcourse, there's always Harold Hill Health Centre.

I understand that this, the nearest alternative, is appointment only (Mon/Wed/Fri 9.00-noon) with up to 3 weeks for an appointment and up to a 2 hour wait (partly as a result of the closure of Harold Wood Hospital). What do the elderly and disabled do now ? I believe it poses a serious problem. Does the Havering RA want to pursue this? My view is that the newer buildings in Harold Wood hospital should be re-opened as a health centre offering a comprehensive service to the elderly and disabled in the area but hey, what do I know, I'm only interested in patient welfare, not politics!

5.1.07

Editor: I shall pass this on to the PCT for comment and report back via this website.


Alan Lazell, Upminster:

THE MYSTERY OF THE SHORT GREEN CYCLE TRACK

I wonder who was the genius at the council who suggested the green cycle track
outside the first few shops to the north of Upminster Station? I have never seen
a cycle on the track. What a waste of money!

2.1.07

Editor: An often asked question! It was in fact Transport for London who suggested and paid for the cycle track - please see home page for full report.


From Nick Joseph, Harold Wood:

THREE PART DRIVING LICENCE THE WAY FORWARD

Re: Article regarding 17year olds on driving.

I own the Harold Wood School of Motoring and have been a Driving Instructor since 1967. I for one have been on to the government for many years to increase the Driving Test to include the Pass Plus as part of the test. This would mean a 3 part licence. Firstly :- The Provisional (learners) licence, then after passing the test a Provisional full licence, then after passing the Pass Plus and having 6months clean driving you then get your FULL Licence.

BUT the DSA/ Government won’t do this because as they say it infringes the human rights. All this about saving lives goes out the window. I could go on and on but what is the point. Every Instructor I speak to is in agreement with me.

Best Wishes for the NEW YEAR.

1.1.07

Editor: The three part route to a full licence seems very sensible to me. What do readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Cllr Clarence Barrett, Cranham:

TIME TO INCREASE PENSIONERS XMAS BONUS

With Christmas upon us, pensioners across the country will be making elaborate and detailed plans in deciding how to spend that seasonal bonanza known as the ‘£10 Christmas Bonus’.

It is interesting to note that since the bonus was introduced in 1972, it has never been uplifted for inflation and today enjoys the relative purchasing power of approximately £1.15.

Whilst this Government can spend around £23 billion a year on unelected Quangos, I would suggest a fraction of this cost could be used to increase this festive ‘bonus’ from a miserly £10 to a more meaningful, index linked, £50.

15.12.06

Editor: What do readers think? Send your views to Have Your Say.


GM, Havering-atte-Bower:

WHERE ARE OUR BUSES?

I am resident of Havering-atte-Bower, a forgotten village just outside Romford.

I am writing on behalf of our residents who are experiencing the worst public transport service in all the London transport area.

The arrogance of the Arriva company has peaked this week with the suspension of the Samantha Mews bus stop, they just took the bus stop without any preventive warning.

We have always experienced a poor public transport service, and I was told that it is the price for living in a rural area - maybe it is rural, but it is still part of the London Borough of Havering.

We have a bus running every hour (Arriva Service 500), which is unreliable because as it comes from Harlow you never know if it will be at the bus stop at the right time, frequently this bus never turn up at all!

We had made several complaints to the Council, Arriva and TfL, but nobody seems to be able to tackle the problem.

Frequently we have to use the 175 or 103 bus route, which stops 1.3 miles, uphill from the village. Why can't this service be extended into the
village?

I would like to have a point of view from the residents association regarding this matter.

24.11.06

Editor: I have passed this matter onto our RA Cllr in Havering-atte-Bower and will report back.


VB, Cranham:

PAY & DISPLAY NOT WANTED IN CRANHAM

I was very dismayed to read that the car park in Cranham Village is to become a Pay & Display car park.

I for one will never use this car park again if this is the case. I will continue to use the shops in Cranham, but will park elsewhere as, I suspect, many others will also do.

As you say, this is the thin end of the wedge and before long the car parks in Upminster and Hornchurch will follow suit.

I can only deduce that the buffoon who made this decision cares not one iota about the smaller, local shopping areas of the borough.

21.11.06

Editor: The decision to install Pay & Display at Front Lane Car Park has been requisitioned by Cranham councillors and objections will be heard before the Environment Scrutiny Committee very shortly. We shall keep you advised on progress.


David James, Harold Hill:

MAKE RECYCLING WORK

Havering has a poor record on recycling compared to other councils (17% for 2005-06, compared to a target set by govt. of 27%). Part of the problem as I see it is that only a small range of things are deemed as 'recyclable'. Much of the packaging we use today is marked as recyclable, but cannot be recycled in Havering.

The excuse is always that the process is expensive, but surely we don't have an option here? We have to press home the message to get more items included in the list of recyclable materials, and to supermarkets too that a lot of their packaging is made from combinations of materials that cannot be separated for recycling, e.g. milk cartons with polyethylene tops and waxed cardboard bodies.

We should be concentrating on plastics recycling - plastics are not renewable, unlike paper, and in fact it's a debatable point as to whether paper recycling, with all the chemicals involved, is better than using the paper waste for insulation, fuel, or for composting.

I could go on and on here, but I feel we need to nag the Council on this one. No use just putting some well meaning stuff on their website - we need some action here.

20.11.06

Editor: While the season of goodwill is almost upon us, it is also the time of year when more waste is created and discarded than at any other time. Excess packaging is a major contributor to waste and, sadly, much of it ends up in landfill rather than being recycled. David makes a very good point about supermarkets - perhaps we could have a packaging disposal point just after check-out where customers can accrue 'points' for participation.


Mrs Skingle, Harold Wood:

NO TO HAROLD WOOD HOSPITAL DEVELOPMENT!

I am strongly opposed to the Harold Wood Hospital development. The traffic in and out of Harold Wood is already at a stand still in the mornings and evenings, our schools are full and my nephew has to go to a school out of Harold Wood as he cannot get into the local two junior schools.
How can we stop this development, I think a retirement complex with private and rental (council) would be an excellent idea we are in desperate need of retirement accommodation and my parents would be very interested in purchasing one.

9.11.06

Editor: This application (P1232.06) went to Regulatory Services Commitee on 26th October where an outline approval was given for 423 dwellings on the Harold Wood Hospital site. As this was only an outline application it would be subject to many conditions (financial and otherwise) imposed by the Council.


VS, Upminster:

A GOOD WALK RUINED

As an avid walker I regularly use Footpath No. 220 that runs between 52 and 54 The Grove,Upminster, allowing easy accesss to the fields. This section runs for some 64 metres and has a small bridge section which the Council maintain, which is regarded as unnsafe and needs repair - however it appears normal to me and I have used it for 10 years.

The Council closed this section of Footpath 220 down on 30.6.2006 saying that they would repair the bridge and that it should be open by about 31.10.2006. It still remains closed and I suspect that they might just leave it that way to save costs. Could the right of way be lost if they are allowed to default on the repair work and just leave it? It's hardly a big project for a council work force being a small path.

I have noted that this closure is made under The Roasd Traffic Regulation Act 1984 Section 14(1)as a temporary prohibition to pedestrians.

2.11.06

Editor: We shall look into this and report back.



CF, Cranham:

346 BUS ROUTE

Is there any way you could investigate the appalling service of the 346 route. The buses seem to be increasingly late every day. Also they miss buses out. When you ask the driver all you get is a rude attitude/don't care. We pay a lot of money for this service and I think it's about time the bus company offered the service we expect. I know plenty of my fellow passengers have rang and have written to the bus company but with little joy. Anything you could do to address this problem on our behalf would be appreciated.

27.10.06

Editor: I have written to Transport for London asking for a performance schedule for this route and their observations. I shall keep you posted.


Vicky Blackburn, Cranham:

NO PAY & DISPLAY FOR CRANHAM CAR PARK

It was good to read in the local press that Cllr Barry Tebbutt has admitted he made a mistake when he took the decision to close the small car park in Cranham, however I am now dismayed to learn that short-term pay and display machines could be installed.

This is a ludicrous idea and almost as bad as shutting the car park. Firstly there would be the cost of installing said machines, at about £3,000 each. Then there is the maintenance and collecting of the money and refilling with tickets. Furthermore, enforcement would be needed to make sure that each car displayed a parking ticket.

There is a very quick turnover of cars in that car park. Many people park for just 5 - 10 minutes while they nip into Tesco or one of the other shops. Who in their right mind would want to pay for such a short time in a car park? This idea would result in more people parking on the streets, thus causing even more congestion.

Why is it that Upminster has two free car parks, and Hornchurch has at least three, but Cranham can’t even have one small, much needed, one?

24.10.06

Editor: The idea of putting in pay & display machines at the Front Lane Car Park is just not sensible. For the reasons set out in this letter, it would lead to even more congestion in Cranham and lead to people simply avoiding the area. Should this misguided idea ever be mooted, there will be a public consultation process where the voice of Cranham residents will be heard loud and clear.


Mr JW :

FURY AT DARTFORD TOLL INCREASE

I am furious that there are plans to increase the tolls in 2008 to £1.50 from the current £1.00.

The costs associated with the construction of the tunnels and the bridge have long since been repaid and it was on this basis that tolls were first introduced.

I feel that false representation has been made when these tolls were first introduced and now, despite the crossing being a main artery of the national M25 motorway route to the continent, motorists are being fleeced, possibly illegally.

As we all know, there are no alternatives to cross the river unless you use the Woolwich ferry or the Blackwall Tunnel and these simply couldn't cope with any extra demands on them.

The tolls are the sole reason for the constant delays in crossing the river and the additional pollution that this must cause to the environment. Remove the tolls and thus remove the congestion.

I feel that our Residents Association, along with others affected, together with the motoring organisations such as the Road Hauliers, A.A. and R.A.C. and others interested in removing these unjust tolls, should unite to campaign against these unjust and possibly illegal charges.

Perhaps local businesses affected could sponsor the campaign costs and legal advice could be obtained to consider a legal challenge in court.

I would welcome your views on this.

23.10.06

Editor: As I understand the situation, once the construction costs of the tunnel and bridge had been met, then the legal authority to charge a toll would cease (April 2003). To get around this, the government reclassified the fee as a ‘Congestion Charge’ rather than a ‘Toll’. As such, I’m not sure how successful a legal challenge would be.

As set out in my editorial, it is a perverse logic that the collection of a 'congestion charge' is the reason for the grinding congestion associated with the Crossing.

As this is a very recent development, I shall find out more about the consultation process and report back via this website.



Tony Burns, Grantham:

A QUESTION OF DEMOCRACY?

Local democracy week is an interesting concept. Do readers remember the 2002
council election result? The then leader of the Tory group formed a minority administration and then publicly thanked the leader of the Labour group
for his co-operation. This concept of democracy we can do without. But people
have short memories and hyprocacy lives.

10.10.06

Editor: A healthy democracy depends on robust opposition, but there is still room for co-operation where there is an obvious benefit to the community. What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Mr JP, Hornchurch:

LEARNER DRIVERS & CONGESTION CHARGING

I reside in the Woodhall Road / Beverley Gardens area of Hornchurch. These roads, together with the surrounding ones, are being flooded with learner drivers. I presume this is because it must be part of the Driving Test area for Hornchurch. Residents regularly have to contend with learners performing three-point turns, reversals between parked cars and emergency halts. I appreciate that learners have to practice somewhere and I make allowances for their lengthy obstructions in this area but today was the first time that I suffered a bout of ‘road rage’ from an 'instructor' who was under the impression that, because he was instructing a student, he was allowed to cause wilful obstruction of the highway. I was obliged to lock myself in whilst he banged away at my car window! (Not a good example to set for his student whereas most try to teach courtesy towards other road users).

Our local roads in this area are like a conveyor belt for them: whilst I have been writing this email in front of my window I have counted twenty in as many minutes and I know that at the nearby corners there will be others practicing reversing. Goodwill towards these Driving Schools is fast diminishing in this area due to the obstructions that they are causing for local residents.

A local tax on them might be a deterrent for their excessive use of these roads as well as a means of easing our exorbitant Council Tax!

3.10.06

Editor: Not sure a local tax would be possible for such an activity as they already pay car tax. Perhaps there should be more focus on driver simulation facilities, but ultimately it is on the road where they will learn best. I used to live near the ‘bungalow estate’ in Ilford which was heavily used by Learner Drivers because they had wide roads with little on-street parking as the bungalows had large driveways. If you have any views or ideas, why not e.mail ‘Have Your Say’?


M. Woodford, Cranham:

PARKING CHAOS IN CRANHAM

Why all the fuss regarding the closure of car park in Cranham? I live nearby and the people using Tesco Express and other shops do not use it but park anywhere they choose. Why, oh Why, cannot the council enforce parking regulations and issue parking tickets to those mindless people that do not use the facilities that are provided?

While on the subject of parking when will we see traffic wardens outside coopers as at start of school and finish cars are parked all along the road. It is an accident waiting to happen.

2.10.06

Editor: Parking attendants do visit Front Lane and have issued many tickets. However the nature of parking in the area is very short term and unless we have a permanent parking attendant on duty, motorists will take advantage. We are particularly concerned about the parking in the bus bay and zig zag lines outside Tesco Express and are looking at long term options to deal with this. I have passed on your concerns regarding Coopers to our Upminster colleagues.


Mr B, Havering:

OLYMPIC LEVY PAYMENTS

I am not sure how the Olympic Levy is being applied. I live on my own and get a reduction in my Council Tax as a single occupant so do I get a reduction in the £20 Levy?

It does not seem fair as I live next door to a house that sleeps 8 most nights at least 5 wage earners do they pay the same as me?

25.9.06

Editor: The Olympic Levy is a charge collected by the Council alongside the Council Tax. Like the Council Tax, the Olympic Levy is charged on a proportional basis. For example, while an average Band D property will pay £20 per year, a Band H property will pay £40 per year and a Band A property £13.33 a year. Any discounts (eg 25% reduction for single occupant) would also be applied proportionally. As Council Tax is applied per household, it makes no distinction between 3 people or 8 people living there, however the amount payable may change where benefits apply.


Colleen Saunders, Upminster:

SAVE OUR CAR PARK

I have written to the address on the Cranham car park story saying how dismayed Iam if this happened, but if the council are that mean pehaps we could persuade Tesco to upkeep the car park as thy will most surely be the loosers if we all go and
shop elsewhere.

21.9.06

Editor: I think we should remember that we pay the 4th highest Council Tax in London and are among the highest payers in the country. In the first place, for the sake of an additional £3,000 per year, I believe we should be looking to the Council and not Tesco (who already pay business rates) to stump up the difference.


J. and P. Page, Havering:

OLYMPIC LEVY PETITION SUPPORT

We have added our names to your petition, re: the charge for the Olympics, which we believe should be spread over the whole country, as this benefits Britain not just London. We already have to pay more council tax due to the Mayor's policies without this extra premium. When the Dartford tunnel was built we were told after so many years it would be free and this will never be, likewise this proposal.

21.9.06

Editor: Thanks for that. Support for the Olympic Levy Petition is growing with over 3,500 names now collected.


J. Bryant, Cranham:

AN EXCELLENT SITE!

What an excellent website and the newsletter subscription is a really good idea. I find it a very useful way of finding out what is happening in the area. It would be really helpful if you could expand the 'What's On' section to include a couple of months at a time.

20.9.06

Editor: Thanks for those kind words. We are just reviewing the 'What's On' page and will look to extend the period covered.


VB, Cranham:

SAVE OUR CAR PARK!

I think it's outrageous that the Council won't pay an increase of a mere £3,000 extra a year to keep the car park in Cranham Village open.

If this car park is closed it will severely affect the shops and businesses in the location, with the result that many will probably have to close down, turning Cranham into a ghost town. The shops are a life-line for the elderly residents of the area, many of whom still drive and use the car park.

We don't get much from the Council in Cranham, which seems to be the forgotten corner of Havering, so surely the retention of our small car park is not too much to ask?

I urge everyone to send their letters of disgust and objection to the address given on this website.

19.9.06

Editor: It is incredible that the Council are willing to spend £591,000 on Variable Message Signing (a number of electronic signs placed around Romford Town Centre indicating the number of car park spaces left at each site) but cannot find a miniscule £3,000 pa to keep open a vital parking facility for Cranham. As well as writing to the Cabinet Member, a petition will be available in Cranham shops to lend support against this absurd proposal.


Daren Raby, Upminster:

WELL DONE 'THE BULLETIN

We would like to say that we find 'The Bulletin' very informative and great source of infomation for services in Upminster.

15.9.06

Editor: Thanks very much for that. I shall ensure that the editor of The Bulletin, Ron Ower, gets the message.


Upset Upminster Resident:

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO UPMINSTER COURT?

You have an interesting column on your site about Upminster Court yet there is no acknowledgement of the fact that it is now under offer and no one appears to know what is going to become in the future? I notice that it is no longer included in the 'open house' scheme ... any news anyone? I would hate to see such a lovely place turned into yet another development.

14.9.06

Editor: I totally understand the concern expressed by residents regarding the future of this fine building.

Currently, the Council are in detailed contractual discussions with a preferred bidder. The potential purchaser is a sizeable company who have indicated that their plans are to improve the property and to use it largely for the same purpose as at present, ie. a business training facility. It should be borne in mind that the building is listed and therefore protected, any works carried out must be in agreement with English Heritage.

As soon as the legal processes are complete further details will be made available.


Brenda Howe, Cranham:

FOLKES LANE PLANNING APPLICATION

I must say I am strongly opposed to the Folkes Lane Planning Application (P1655.06).

14.9.06

Editor: The full story and details of how to lodge a comment/objection are on the home page.


Mr Brown, Havering:

NEW LABOUR NAME GAME

When the reigns of power are eventually handed over by Mr Blair, will 'New Labour' become 'New Improved Labour'?

8.9.06

Editor: Perhaps they will become 'Brand New Labour' or 'Back to Old Labour' or simply 'Labour'? Any other suggestions? Please e.mail 'Have Your Say'.


Tony Burns, Grantham:

BUS SHELTER BYELAW?

When I lived in Upminster, I asked an Adshel rep why they didn’t fit the bus shelter with armoured glass. His answer was simple - the company had regular contracts which brought in a lot of money. Why not a local byelaw compelling them to do this?

25.8.06


A Very Concerned Resident, Havering:

HAZARDS OF NUCLEAR WASTE BY RAIL

In a recent edition of the Yellow Advertiser, there was an article about how Greenpeace managed to figure out and publish the timetable for the transport of nuclear waste on the Romford branch line. MP Andrew Rosindell was quoted as saying that publishing it was foolish because it could now be used as information for potential terrorists.

I had no idea there was transport of nuclear waste on the Romford branch line. How long has this been going on for? Where does it come from and why does it have to be transported so close to homes, businesses and schools? Are we at risk? If we sell our homes in future do we have to disclose this?

23.8.06

Editor: This relates to the transportation of nuclear waste from Sizewell, on the Suffolk coast, to Willesden Junction, London. The five-hour rail journey is undertaken two or three times a week and passes through Romford in the early evening. Greenpeace have indeed published the timetable on their website, but anyone, including potential terrorists, could find this information out within a few minutes by surfing the internet. This is not a widely publicised practice and the risk to people and communities is catastrophic if something were to go wrong. But there are over 1,000 nuclear transports by rail in the UK every year – how could they be made safer? Is rail safer than road? E.mail your views to
Have Your Say.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster (RA):

COUNTING THE COST OF BUS SHELTER DAMAGE

All too often the glass in our bus shelters is smashed and has to be replaced, this is normally done quite quickly – but the clearing up of the broken glass is not so quick. I would stress that while the Council often end up clearing up the glass, it is the responsibility of Adshel to do this. As long as it’s left to the Council, the cost of making safe is ultimately met from yours and mine council tax.

22.8.06

Editor: In Manchester and Middlesbrough CCTV cameras have been installed into some bus shelters in an effort to catch, and ultimately deter, the culprits. Is this something we should do in Greater London and Essex? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Jackie Raggett, Rainham:

OLD CLOTHING COLLECTIONS

I noticed a feature on Breakfast BBC recently which highlighted the dropping of leaflets through doors asking residents for clothing no longer required. Whilst the impression given is that it is a charitable cause, quite often it is not and there is usually small print on the leaflet explaining this.

Further information on the list of ‘junk mail’ and similar organisations can be found at http://www.g6csy.net/spam/letterbox.html. Is it valid to request that these organisations are looked into, as people do put clothing out in good faith?

17.8.06

Editor: The practice of dropping plastic bags through our letter boxes asking for used clothes has become more and more common. Whilst there are still charitable collections, there is an increasing number of collectors touting for unwanted clothes, cosmetics, handbags, etc. which, whilst legal, are simply sold on for profit. The key thing here is to have a look at the small print, which they are obliged to show, and make your decision accordingly.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster:

CAR TAX SCRAP VALUE

While most of the vehicles which are untaxed (are more likely not to have insurance or an MOT) are of low value, there are some higher value vehicles which are untaxed also. It seems as waste of money to just destroy these vehicles, so I made some enquiries about the possibility of storing the cars and bikes for them to be sold with the proceeds going to charity. This seems a much better idea than simply crushing them.

16.8.06

Editor: According to the DVLA there are about 1.55 million untaxed vehicles on the roads of Great Britain. There are various schemes in place across the country designed to tackle untaxed vehicles, with many vehicles being scrapped if an owner does not come forward. What do readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Jackie Raggett, Rainham:

RAILWAY FIRE HAZARD?

Living alongside the Tilbury Line, there is a lot of dry scrub between us and this railway line, and again between that railway line and the new Channel line.

Why is it that the board shielding the Channel line is entirely in wood where it runs near the properties of Rainham and Wennington, and once beyond Wennington, it is made from concrete?

Surely under these dry conditions the wooden fence is a fire hazard and running alongside properties, what can be done as fire prevention?

15.8.06

Editor: I have passed this onto the Rainham Rail User Group, which is run in association with the Thurrock Rail User Group. Further information can be found regarding these groups by visiting www.c2c-offline.co.uk.


NH, Cranham

SPEED CAMERAS SERVE A PURPOSE

Day after day I hear many people complain about how many speeding cameras there are and that there are too many, but how do you know what the money is spent on?

No matter how many cameras we have on our streets, people will continue to speed! Fined or not, people tend to slow down until they pass the camera and then speed off again.

Obviously the type of people that think we have enough already and should have no more are the people that are not willing to reduce their speeds!! And as for complaining about what the money is spent on... IF YOU DONT SPEED THEN YOU WONT GET CAUGHT WILL YOU???

Think of it this way... have you lost a family member to a speeding car? Think of losing a child to a speeding car in an area where a camera has not yet been placed... Still think we have too many?? - I DOUBT IT!

14.8.06

Editor: There are around 6,200 speed cameras (including 2,500 mobile units) on our roads. The approximate number of offences recorded by speeds cameras in 2001 was 260,000 rising to 2 million in 2005. The treasury net around £21million a year from this, but most of this is ploughed back into road safety measures which include further cameras and maintenance. Do we have too many cameras? Are they effective in making our roads safer? Why not e.mail your view to Have Your Say?


An Upminster Resident:

TRAFFIC CONCERNS

I live in Londons Close, off Corbets Tey Road, Upminster, which is a small cul-de-sac but is very busy.

There are several reasons for this letter. Firstly, customers & employees of a nearby Car Showroom use it as a car park. People park very dangerously e.g. right ON the corner with Corbets Tey Road (not just close to the corner), making it hazardous to pull out of our road as you cannot see. Also, people pulling into the road have to go on the wrong side of the road, many drive too fast and nearly cause accidents.

Secondly, the sign for Aveley is just before our turning, so people who don't know the area turn down our road only to find it a dead end! They then have to turn around and try the next right turn. We often get asked directions by confused people. It would really help if the Council move the sign to just past our turning.

I walk a lot with my baby in a pram. People parking on the pavement make it impossible for me to pass and I have to cross over. I struggle to see if anything is coming due to all the cars and the speed they pull into the road is dangerous. (As an aside, the quality of the pavement is very poor in places and needs replacing).

To solve these problems I feel the Council should move the Aveley sign and send traffic wardens to our road to ticket cars parked on the pavement and on the corner of the road. Sadly, I don't think anything can be done about the Car Showroom using our road as a car park.

6.8.06

Editor: Traffic matters form a significant proportion of business dealt with by local Area Committee’s. They are designed to pick up issues and concerns raised by residents and to look at ways of improving things. I have passed this onto to the relevant Cllrs who deal with this particular area.


Mrs R. Crowhurst, Elm Park:

POLICE NUMBERS IN HAVERING

I am concerned about Policing in Elm Park. The local teams do a great job.....BUT when asked who covers when they go home after a shift....the reply is no one. It takes several calls to even see a police officer. Where have all these extra police gone that the Mayor of London keeps telling us ......they are not in Havering!!!!!

5.8.06

Editor: Each ward in the borough is now served by a Safer Neighbourhood Police Team. In terms of requiring police attendance, for 24 hour non-emergency assistance call your local police station. For matters of emergency where an immediate police presence is required please call 999.

There is a wealth of information (including phone numbers) regarding Havering Police on the Met Police website, please click on the following link to find out more http://cms.met.police.uk/met/boroughs/havering/index


Mike Kelly, Upminster:

A BIG THANK YOU TO PARKS STAFF

I know it is easy to knock the council but to their credit I must say that after the disgusting state that Corbets Tey park was left in when the schools
broke up on Friday afternoon with bottles,cartons, flour,etc, when I went into Upminster on Saturday morning - it had all been cleared. A big thank you to the council workers it must have been a mammoth task.

22.7.06

Editor: It's nice to receive positive messages and I shall make sure the comments are fed back to the relevant people. I too was in Upminster Park this morning with my two small children and remarked upon how much it has improved. I think it is well worth the Green Flag status it has recently been assessef for (results in the Autumn!).


Mr D.E. Crawley, Romford:

OLYMPIC LEVY UNFAIR

I certainly welcome the 2012 Olympic Games being staged in the UK, but without any formal consultation, the residents of Greater London have been burdened with a £625 million council tax bill to support the Games.

While this arrangement is set to last for 11 years, there is no guarantee from the Mayor of London that the inevitable overspend is not added to that burden. As this is a national event which will produce benefits nationally, all I ask is that the cost, including any overspend, is shared nationally.

15.7.06

Editor: Well said! Anyone wishing to sign my petition to similar effect please visit http://www.petitiononline.com/2012hra/petition.html


Lois Amos, Upminster:

HAVERING IN BLOOM PLANT POTS

I don't know whether anyone noticed, but the borough Streetcare team have been
busy this week. The circular bed at the front of Upminster Court was suddenly
planted up for the Havering in Bloom judges visit and lunch. The plants (still in their pots) went in on Wednesday, and they will be gone by Friday! The magnificent hanging baskets were 'on loan' and they too have been returned.

What a pity that the house only looked pretty for 48 hours, it made such a
difference!

14.7.06


Clive Smith, Havering:

HAROLD WOOD DEVELOPMENT

Yet another planning application for Harold Wood Hospital with a development of 423 dwellings!

8.7.06

Editor: This refers to an outline planning application (P1232.06) which has been made by Barking, Havering & Redbridge NHS Trust. If residents wish to comment on the application, this can be done by visiting havering.gov.uk/planning or by writing to the Head of Development & Building Control at 7th Floor, Mercury House, Mercury Gardens, Romford, RM1 3SL.


Tony Burns, Grantham:

SCHOOL CROSSING MARKINGS

When I was the lollipop man outside Upminster Junior School, I persuaded the RA
to have the school crossing marked out. Thanks to Councillor Gillian Ford this has now been done. However, during one of my flying visits to Upminster during school
hours I noticed some cars parked on the markings. Unless the regulations are
enforced you might as well paint the markings out.

5.7.06

Editor: As with all traffic restrictions, enforcement plays a key role in making the schemes workable. As traffic enforcement officers cannot be at all places at all times, it is using what capacity exists to best effect.


Mr A. Waterhouse, Upminster:

PROSPECTS FOR UPMINSTER COURT

I understand that Upminster Court is up for sale, has the RA made any representations to the council about the sell off of this lovely old building . As a regular reader of The Bulletin I cannot remember seeing any organised protest against it? Is there one?

It seems a shame that, not only are we losing this grade II listed building, we have also lost a college in Capel Manor. Not only have myself and my son trained at this college, so have countless others from outside our community, bringing in extra revenue to local shops.

But worst of all is the loss of jobs .Not only Capel Manor staff, but also the gardeners and alike who work there.

I am sure that if they reach the £2,000,000 guide price or more for this property that Upminster will reap the reward. I think not

28.6.06

Editor: Upminster Court has been placed on the market before but attracted no serious interest. It is a fine grade II listed building which provides a unique point of heritage interest in Upminster. The conditions imposed on refurbishing a listed building are very strict and this often deters potential developers.

Should a buyer emerge, representations and protests can be made to the Council, via the Regulatory Services Committee, regarding any planning proposals for the building - at the moment we simply do not know.

We shall keep certainly readers informed on progress regarding this matter.


A Concerned Resident:

UPMINSTER COURT PROCEEDS

I notice from the Upminster Court brochure that it is being marketed by an agent. What is the agent's commission, as a percentage of the sale? What are the expected proceeds and what is it planned to fund?

24.6.06

Editor: Not sure what the commission rate is, but should the property be sold these details will emerge. No price has been fixed so it may be a matter of going to the best offer (within a given reserve). Proceeds from these type of sales usually go into the overall capital receipts of the Council.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

SAVE UPMINSTER COURT ‘GEM’

I do so hope that the Council does not sell this house just to the highest bidder and thinks more about the welfare of the house and gardens, the community, and how this gem of a magnificent house should move forward sympathetically with the overall historic and natural landscape for the next 100 years.

Happy Birthday to a wonderful House- she is 100 years old this year but sadly will NOT be open for English Heritage's Open House Day.

 

21.6.06

Editor: As the building is Grade II listed, there would be numerous restrictions as to what can and cannot be done with the building. We shall be watching how this matter develops with considerable interest.


JP, Hornchurch:

RECYCLING USA STYLE

I agree with CJP of Havering (Letters Page, 7.6.06) that our Council's attempts at
recycling are pathetic. Four years ago I visited friends who live in Connecticut,
USA. They were obliged to put coloured paper and white papers into separate
boxes, plastic objects into another and likewise for tin cans. Glass bottles
were also collected from their doorstep. Failure by any householder to separate
wasteage as above resulted in a fine. I repeat: that was four years ago!
Is it any wonder that our Council has one of the worst recycling records in the
UK which, in turn, has one of the worst records in Europe.

Editor: The recycling rate for Havering in 2004/05 was 15.51%, which was a 5.92% increase on the previous year. Whilst there has been a significant increase in the number of incentive schemes (see letter 7.6.06) along with a 50% increase in recycling in 2004/05 from the previous year at Gerpins Lane Reuse and Recycling Centre, Upminster (managed by Shanks East London on behalf of Havering Council) we are still working towards the statutory 27% target. Like Connecticut, Barnet Council have made it compulsory to recycle and residents could face a fine of up to £1,000 for persistently not complying. Should there be penalties for not recycling? What do other readers think? E.mail your view to ‘Have Your Say’.


CBL, Havering:

RECYCLING IN HAVERING

I think it’s disgusting that Havering Council does not have a recycling scheme.
Having just moved into the borough I am amazed there is no recycling or garden
waste collections, as it seems in Brentwood wherever you look there are recycling
bins. Where is our council tax going?

7.6.06

Editor: Firstly, welcome to Havering. Secondly, Havering Council is fully committed to maintaining a clean and safe environment and has put in place numerous recycling arrangements, such as the orange ‘recycling’ bag kerbside collection scheme, garden waste collection bins, composters, Gerpins Lane Reuse and Recycling Centre and the ‘It’s in the Bag’ incentive scheme. To find out more, please click on the following link http://www.havering.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleidp4


J. Anderson, Upminster:

KEEPING OUR COMMUNITY GRAFFITI FREE

I agree that graffiti is best cleaned off as soon as you see it (Letter, 1.6.06). We had many problems at The Clockhouse with this but the youngsters soon stopped when it was not visible the next time they visited.

6.6.06


Frank Nash, Upminster:

PHONE MAST DELIGHT

I was delighted that the application for a 02 phone mast was turned down on the junction of Gaynes Park Rd and Little Gaynes Lane. If 02 does appeal I feel the local residents fighting the application have enough evidence to see it turned down again.

6.6.06

Editor: Residents are encouraged to comment on applications that have an impact on their community. Please see havering.gov.uk/planning for more details.


VB, Cranham:

BEWARE HALF TERM!

It's half-term week and once again a few mindless kids, with nothing better to
do, are up to no good.

Yesterday (Wednesday 31st May) I was upset to see that some of the morons had decided to add some graffiti to the newly cleaned railway bridge in Cranham.

There has also been a visible increase in litter in the Village and Avon Road
areas this week.

If I had my way, I would make all the kids who are hanging around, obviously
with time on their hands and nothing to do, pick up all the rubbish and clean
off all the graffiti, but of course, that would probably infringe their human
rights!

It's a shame how a small minority always have to spoil things for the majority.

1.6.06

Editor: Cranham Cllrs have contacted Network Rail straight away to get the graffiti cleaned off and have also notified the police as this is criminal damage.

Sadly, it is a very small minority who spoil things for the great majority and we must use all the resources at our disposal to tackle this problem.


JA, Upminster:

NO BOATS PLEASE

Referring to the letter from Cllr Linda Hawthorn regarding Clockhouse Gardens (29.5.06), I am pleased the council are putting up a sign regarding the use of boats on the lake. This will stop me having to chase offenders - they are usually very rude - 4 The Clockhouse!

1.6.06

Editor: As Cllr Hawthorn rightly points out, it is a shame we have to erect signs to ask people not to do things which are so obviously wrong!


VB, Cranham:

NO TO MOTORCYLE TEST CENTRE!

I, like most residents of Cranham and Upminster I have spoken to, am horrified by the thought of a Driving Test Centre being built on the field at the junction of St Mary's Lane and The Chase.

If you look at Havering Council's web site, under the Planning section, you will find that this field comes within the Cranham Conservation Area. I therefore, don't see how this proposal can even be considered, let alone get planning permission.

I urge all residents to send in their letters of objection to the Planning Department and if it should come before the Regulatory Services Committee I suggest that the entire population of Cranham and Upminster turn up at the Town Hall to show their solidarity against this outrageous proposal.

This must NOT be allowed to be built.

31.3.06

Editor: If residents are minded to lodge an objection, it is important to quote the new reference number P1002.06 and to give reasons to support the objection. Further details regarding this matter can be found on the home page.


Bill, Upminster:

UPMINSTER CRIME FIGURES

Can someone explain what is going on in our once peaceful town?

Incidents of driveway car theft, cars being broken into in the middle of the night are now a regular occurrence on the Springfield Gardens estate with at least 6 residents and their cars becoming victims in our road in the last five weeks alone.

Is this happening all over Upminster? I never see any reports of this in the local papers and indeed on two occasions when I have witnessed crimes and reported them to the police they have taken over 30 minutes to get there.

Can some other residents confirm that this rise in crime is not just restricted to the Springfield estate?

29.5.06

Editor: The Met Police website provides a wealth of statistical information on crime figures for each ward in Havering. Comparing year on year figures (April 2005 – April 2006) for Upminster, there appears to be a shift upwards in burglary and drug offences while criminal damage has declined considerably. To get a fuller response, I have passed your message on to your ward councillor who works closely with the local Police Safer Neighbourhood Team.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster:

KEEP CLOCKHOUSE GARDENS BOAT FREE

I wonder how many people had their grandchildren visit them on a particularly sunny Sunday afternoon in May and decided to take them to Clockhouse Gardens to feed the ducks? Quite a few ducklings have been born this year so this promised to be an added attraction for visitors – but no, one mindless individual decided to spoil it for all with a noisy motorised boat. The best water he could find to play with his toy boat was Clockhouse Gardens.

Ducks and ducklings stuttered and there was no joy for several children who were there. When politely asked to stop he replied: “There’s no sign saying he should not do this”. Well, there soon will be! But honestly, is it really necessary? Surely common sense and decency should have prevailed, why should just one person spoil the pleasure of so many?

29.5.06

Editor: It’s a shame that the pursuit of enjoyment for one can ruin it for the many. Residents may have noticed a number of improvements at Clockhouse Gardens recently, what do readers think? Any further ideas?


Lois Amos, Upminster:

COMPOST BIN PLEA

I have written to our new Cllr. Barry Tebutt, responsible for waste, on the question of why we are no longer able to access compost bins for home use at a reduced rate such as our friends 'across the borders' in Essex. I guess that the answer will be that as the are providing some of us with the green wheelie bins, and some can purchase the expensive Green bags there is no need to provide the home gardener with this service. I feel that this puts the keen home gardener, who wishes to make and enjoy home produced compost - safe in the knowledge of the provenance of its components, at a distinct disadvantage to our Essex Cousins. What do fellow residents think?

Incidentally, Havering still has one of the worst recycling levels of all the London Boroughs!

29.5.06

Editor: Would the availabiilty of reduced price compost bins increase recycling? What initiatives would you like to see in order to increase recycling? Send your views to Have Your Say.


Peter Caton, Upminster:

UPMINSTER WRONG PLACE FOR DRIVING TEST CENTRE

I was very concerned to read of plans to build a multi purpose driving test centre on the land adjoining St Mary's Lane and The Chase in Upminster and submitted an objection to the council. I received a letter in reply dated 22nd May saying that this application had been withdrawn, but today we received letters (to the occupier) advising us of another application (same details, different number), so it appears that this has been re-submitted.

This development is wholly inappropriate for a field on the boundary between residential and rural Upminster, which were it not for the illegal erection of a barn some years ago, would have remained agricultural Green Belt.

It would create additional activity, traffic, pollution and noise in this quiet corner of Upminster and understandably those living nearby, and others who value the peaceful countryside around our town, are very concerned about this proposal.

I believe that the residents of Upminster and Cranham would best be served by removal of the remains of the barn, with the land returned to semi
agricultural or recreational use, maybe as part of Thames Chase.

28.5.06

Editor: In order to defeat this proposal, it is vital that residents lodge their objections giving reasons why the application is unacceptable and quote the new reference number P1002.06. Further details regarding this are set out on the home page.


David Smith, Upminster:

DRIVING TEST CENTRE UNSUITABLE FOR UPMINSTER

I am writing to register my complaint about the proposal to put a driving test centre on the land at the junction of The Chase and St. Mary's Lane, Cranham.

This stretch of St. Mary's Lane is extremely busy at certain times of the day because of parents delivering or collecting their children from Coopers Coburn.

There is also the busy junction at Front lane and a difficult exit for vehicles from the Chase. Also the buses are often delayed by the excess parking in the area.

Apparently there will also be motorcycle testing on the site creating noise and pollution. There will also be increased traffic to and from the area, which is totally residential.

This piece of land has been misused for years and I I hope that the U & CR A take up this cause and fight tooth and nail to prevent this development taking place.

23.5.06

Editor: This application has now been withdrawn, but residents can be assured that the Association will be monitoring very closely any further applications in respect of this site


Lois Amos, Upminster:

POLICING WILDLIFE IN HAVERING

During a recent fact finding mission connected with an environmental issue, I discovered that we, in Havering, do not have a Wildlife Police Officer. Some years ago we did have one, but now he has retired he has not been replaced.

How come as the largest, greenest borough in Greater London we don't have a WPO? How ludicrous is that? Essex Police do have WPOs but I suppose, just having a postal address in Essex does not qualify us! I would like to think that it is because, hopefully, we do not have too many crimes against wildlife, habitats and the environment.

Editor: While Havering may not now have a Wildlife Police Officer, the The Metropolitan Police does have a Wildlife Crime Unit. The unit is responsible for enforcement of wildlife laws within the London area and is based at New Scotland Yard. The Unit also provides specialist support and assistance to police officers all over London and works in partnership with many other agencies, as well as providing a focal point for enquiries from the public.

The Unit is made up of a small team of specialist police and civilian staff who have been appointed for their expertise and experience of wildlife matters. The Wildlife Crime Unit can be contacted on 020 7230 3641 or 020 7230 2704.

15.5.06


Mike, Upminster:

TESTING TIMES FOR THE GOVERNMENT

On browsing your letters page I came across the following sentence in a letter
headed ‘TAX, TAX AND MORE TAX – ‘shame on you Prescott, it appears that you have nothing better to do than dream up ways of robbing people’ - as of last week I
think we all know now how Prescott passes his time in office - and he gets paid
for it with our money!

Another of your readers would, like me, like to get the hell out of Livingstone’s clutches and back into Essex where we belong, alas this will never happen because I have it on very good authority that for this to happen it would necessitate John Prescott making a sensible decision and we all know that the sun will fall from the sky before that happens, plus of course, he’s far to busy looking for his trousers.

Finally, congratulations on your campaign to rid us of this obscene Olympic
levy, of course it should be funded by the whole country, you don’t have to be a
genius to work out that - 7 million people in London at £20 per head = £140
million - 65 million people in the country at £5 per head = £325 million !!!

I am 68 and have experienced quite a few dodgy governments in my time but never
can I remember a more corrupt, incompetent, hypocritical bunch of tow-rags as
this lot - and as for the idiot Livingstone…………aaaaah, sorry, must go!

3.5.06

Editor: With the calamities of the government filling our newspapers on a daily basis, public confidence in democratic representation also becomes a casualty. While various initiatives are being mooted to tackle voter apathy, the tried and tested method of serving the best interests of the community, above a slavish adherence to centrally driven directives and diktats put together by unaccountable spin doctors and focus groups, wins every time!


Ron Hunting, Havering:

THE PLUS SIDE OF WHEELIE BINS

Rubbish put out in plastic bags generates more rubbish in my garden from other residents' bag. Each week a variety of food containers and unmentionable matter, originating from another household with dogs as one example, has to be picked up and deposited in my dustbin. Foxes are constantly breaking into bags and dragging and scattering the contents.

I find that in areas where wheelie bins are used, roads and gardens are free from litter. Havering Council should learn a lesson from our former county, Essex.

1.5.06

Editor: While wheelie bins are being introduced for green waste, would an extensive roll out lead to tidier roads? What about the cost of conversion? What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Mike, Havering:

CASINO FOR RAINHAM?

Given the recent press coverage of regional casinos, what are the chances of this being built in Rainham?

28.4.06

Editor: What do readers think? Would a casino in Rainham bring about benefits? What would be the downside? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Sydney Hill, Upminster:

UPMINSTER PARK PAVILION IMPROVEMENTS

I was interested to read in the latest Bulletin of the Upminster Cricket Club's Cricketforce, which was indeed an achievement. However, may I draw your
attention to the fact that the Pavilion on the Upminster Recreation Ground is
jointly run by the Hockey and Cricket Clubs through the Upminster Pavilion Club
and the cost of the scheduled improvements to the Pavilion will be met by
contributions from both Clubs and personal donations/loans from their respective
members.

28.4.06


Lois Amos, Upminster:

KEEP LOCAL HISTORY ALIVE

In reply to John Phillips of Benfleet (letters, April 21), thank you for your support. Boyd Hall marks a milestone and I think that the decision to de-list it means that the building could actually be demolished completely. I feel that this is setting a precedent in the borough and it may also have nationwide implications.

The building could be used as an educational museum perhaps, or maybe it could become a tourist and educational experience offering school children and the public a taste of what it was like in Victorian days to go to school and compare to modern classrooms, this could show how we have 'progressed'!

Perhaps it could be a ‘Living Testament’ to teaching and learning? In Barking and Dagenham they are lucky enough to have the wonderful Eastbury Manor and Valence House - what do we have apart from the incredible Tythe Barn and Windmill? We desperately need our Museum in Romford.

I would love to know exactly where all our historical places are in Havering. Can we please have more about the local history and the marvellous people in this borough who are helping to keep it alive. Thank you.

25.4.06

Editor: Some great ideas on what we could do with Boyd Hall (resources permitting), are there any other buildings of interest in Havering that merit particular attention? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


John Phillips, Benfleet:

SAVE BOYD HALL

Having grown up in Cranham with many fond memories of the village, I am very concerned that the Boyd Hall could be demolished. As All Saints Church say they "have inherited it for the benefit of the community", would it not be better to preserve it as a restored functional building as advocated by Lois Amos?

It would be valuable in preserving the historic identity of Cranham, when there are so few old buildings remaining, and could assist in promoting a community spirit.

21.4.06

Editor: What could Boyd Hall be used for? Send your ideas to ‘Have Your Say’.


Maggie Williams, Upminster:

BINS AND BAGS

I would be happy to recycle more but the orange sacks provided by the council are ludicrous as well as unhygienic. In Falkirk, Scotland my friend has three wheelie bins, one for rubbish, one for garden waste and one for recycling - and all at no extra charge. They don't have rubbish strewn all over their roads and gardens by foxes and cats, nor do the bin-men pick and choose what to consider household rubbish.

I am sure people would be happy to co-operate with a scheme like that instead of silly transparent plastic bags which tear if there is even a sharp corner in the contents.

21.4.06

Editor: The introduction of wheelie bins for garden waste has just been introduced, but, unlike Falkirk, there is a cost of £30 per bin per year. Will this encourage greater recycling rates? E.mail your view to Have Your Say.


Coleen Saunders, Cranham:

OLYMPIC LEVY, HEALTH CLINIC & VOTER APATHY

a) I read your article (Olympic Levy Petition) and have signed my name to the petition. I am concerned we will be expected to pay any extra money should the scheme go over budget, and we all know it will. From past experience the Dome was completely spoiled by not attending to detail and allowing money to be spent on such a load of rubbish. Yes I did visit the Dome and I was appalled that such a unique structure housed so much tat. Now Wembley stadium is over time and way over budget, in my mind I cannot even comprehend the millions that are being spoken of for an event like the Olympics.

I know of no one who thinks we can or should organise it, why waste so much public money on an event for a few pampered athletes? Why cannot we organise the event in the true spirit of the Games, as depicted in a recent TV show which looked at the Games directly after the war. Why do we have to be bigger and better than the last country?

As a senior, I oppose the scheme. I cannot afford to waste my pension, so what right has the GLA to do just this? Can advise me if i can opt out of paying the extra cash, if so, I will be so happy to do so.

b) Another white elephant seems to be the new clinic in Avon Road, local residents all thought that it would house local doctors, but this doesn't seem to be the case. At the moment, the only winners in this building appear be the builders, as it is large with few people in it.

c) I read the April editorial (Tackling Voter Apathy) with interest. It really is because no one believes what we vote for makes any difference. I am 72 and have voted all my life to slowly see my way of life slipping away. I go to London when I can afford to go to the theatre and my heart breaks for the London of my youth, progress, yes - but downhill decline as well.

13.4.06

Editor: In respect of the new health clinic in Avon Road, the Director of Havering Primary Care will be attending our May ward meeting (11th May, 7.45pm, Cranham Community Centre, Marlborough Gardens) where he will take on board any questions residents which to raise about the new clinic, particularly about the appearance of the building.


Bob Harris, Upminster:

WHAT HAPPENS TO OLYMPIC MILLIONS

I read with interest the comments in the April edition of The Bulletin regarding funding the Olympics. I am also aware that councillors in South London are of the same mind.

My question is ‘After the Olympics are we going to get a share in the millions supposedly being made, or is this just going to disappear somewhere?’

7.4.06

Editor: I suspect that any millions that are to be made as a result of the Olympics will be by private companies who are able to capitalise on the world’s most prestigious sporting event coming to London. With that in mind, I wonder why the residents of Greater London are compelled to pay the Olympic Levy for the next 11 years, but there is no levy on London business rates?


VB, Cranham:

OLYMPIC LEVY SHOULD BE SHARED

Like most people who live in London boroughs, I am totally opposed to paying
the Olympic levy and feel that if we have to pay, then the whole country should contribute to ease the burden.

I have no interest whatsoever in any sport of any description, and I will
certainly have no interest in any part of the Olympics. Therefore I will gain
absolutely nothing from having them come to London in 2012 and yet I am expected to pay for them!

Maybe all like minded residents should stand shoulder-to-shoulder and withhold the £20 levy. I certainly feel like doing just that.

5.4.06

Editor: Our ‘Opposing 2012 Olympic Levy’ petition has already attracted hundreds of signatories. Beyond the pre-arranged period of the levy which has been imposed on Londoners, it is important that any overspend should not be further foisted upon London council taxpayers.


JG, Havering:

SUPPORT FOR OLYMPIC PETITON

I entirely support your petition against the additional Council tax for Londoners for the Olympics and have signed the petition.

This additional tax has been imposed on us against our will and is an even heavier tax burden for pensioners on fixed and limited incomes.

We have very high tax increases in the last few years, yet just over the boundary in Essex I understand the Olympic cycling events will be held at Weald Park - and the residents of Brentwood will pay nothing!

It is disgraceful but somehow I do not think we will persuade Ken to change his mind.

Good luck!

2.4.06

Editor: Let’s hope the petition draws attention to the fact that not everyone is happy with the ‘Olympic Levy’. In addition, the petition may help to avoid the inevitable overspend being foisted upon the council taxpayers of Greater London.


VB, Cranham:

HOSPITAL CAR PARK CHARGE OUTRAGE

I have just read your article, and also one in this week's Romford Recorder
(31.3.06) regarding the cost of parking in our hospital car parks.

I have recently spent nine weeks visiting a relative in both Oldchurch and Harold Wood Hospitals. I visited for several hours every day for each of those nine weeks.

I have estimated that I spent well over £200 on parking fees during that time. My relative was moved around between different wards in both
Oldchurch and Harold Wood Hospitals and it was only during the ninth week that I spotted a small notice on the wall of the ward in Oldchurch advising visitors, who were visiting long term care patients, that they could apply for free passes for the car park.

I was given a leaflet about each ward, with information about the ward, including visiting times and the ward phone number etc. Could they not have included information about these free passes in the ward leaflets? It seems to me that they don't really want people to know about this!

Having to keep an eye on the time while visiting, in order to nip out and put another ticket on my car when one ran out, merely added to the stress I was already under. That was after driving round and round the pitifully inadequate car park at Oldchurch looking for that elusive space.

The young daughter of a friend of mine was recently admitted to the King George Hospital in Goodmayes for an operation. My friend was given a pass for her car window, enabling her to have free unlimited parking while visiting her sick daughter. Information about these passes was freely given to my friend when she expressed concern about having to leave her daughter to go out and re-ticket her car.

I hope you will include this letter on your letters page, in order that other people who are visiting long term patients will be made aware that it
needn't cost them the vast amount that I fed into the parking meters in the hospital car parks.

1.4.06

Editor: An excellent letter which makes a powerful point. Our mini-poll (see Home Page) asks whether car parking should be free for those receiving treatment, I think this should also include those visiting very sick patients on a frequent basis. I shall also send this letter and response to Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust for their views.


Bernard Boakes, Upminster:

DENTAL CHARGE SHOCK

I have just seen that the Dental inspection charge has increased by 300%. Not everybody can afford this charge. I suppose this is one way of reducing demand for dental care in this country!

31.3.06

Editor: After billions of pounds have been invested in the NHS how can we be faced with such astronomical increases? With hospitals shedding staff to plug deficits, one must ask ‘Where did all the money go?’ What do readers think? E.mail your view to Have Your Say.


Lyn Allan, Havering:

ELDERLY CARE COST SCANDAL

My Mum has just gone into a residential care home in Upminster aged 94. My Dad worked till he was 66, when died in 1978. The government now want her small bungalow to be sold to pay for care. In Scotland this is not the case.

A report compiled by Sir Derek Wanless indicates that in the next 5-10 years means testing could stop and EVERYONE could have free care.

Why should people lose their inheritance because of a greedy government?

Could you write to somebody on my behalf and help please!!!! Thank you

31.3.06

Editor: One of the greatest scandals in modern day Britain is the degrading and shameful situation that sees many of our older citizens forced into selling their homes to pay for long-term healthcare.

In 1999, a Royal Commission, set up by this government, recommended that all nursing and personal care for elderly people should be provided free of charge. While these measures have been adopted in Scotland, our own government eventually chose only to fund nursing care. Thereby forcing thousands of elderly people to pay the costs of personal care, such as washing, feeding and help using the lavatory.

It is quite wrong that those who pay National Insurance contributions all their lives save hard and have bought their own homes run the risk of having it all taken away should they be in need of long-term health care. How can this compare with those who own nothing, have saved nothing and have paid little taxes but will receive a comprehensive care service free of charge.

The means testing employed is degrading and impoverishes older people. For many, who are by no means wealthy, but have a modest amount of saving and own their home are compelled to deplete those savings and even sell their house to pay for their care. It is estimated that around 70,000 people had to sell their homes last year to fund this service.

In addition to the suffering endured by those affected, the added indignity of being stripped of assets to pay for what should be an entitlement only serves to heighten the suffering. The provision of healthcare from the cradle to the grave should be subject to need, not how much your house is worth.

I shall forward your e.mail with my response to our local MP.


Clive Cumbers, Havering:

THE COST OF SPEEDING

RE: ‘Speed cameras making money out of the motorist’. Of course they do not. Motorists choose to pay for travelling too fast .... especially as most speed cameras operate only when the speed limit is exceeded by a reasonable percentage! Drive too fast and expect to pay.

22.3.06

Editor: There are more than 5,000 speed cameras located across the country generating something in the region of £120 million per year. There is much debate about the effectiveness of cameras, especially when motorists simply ‘surf’ the areas which are covered. One of the most effective speed measures I have come across is along the M11 which calculates the average speed over a distance covering several miles. What do other readers think?


Susan Webb, Harold Hill:

WHY NO SAY ON OLYMPIC LEVY?

If we have to pay extra on our council tax for the 2012 Olympics, then we should have been told and given the chance to vote for the bid. I would have voted NO, as I cannot afford this extra cost. The Olympics will do nothing for our community and I do not understand why I have to pay. Brentwood will be holding the mountain bike races, are they paying towards the bid?

20.3.06

Editor: As set out in the letters below, the consultation process was vague when it came to cost commitment and the council tax contribution was agreed between the government and Ken Livingstone a few years ago.

The example of Brentwood being used as an Olympic venue, yet no charge being made to residents, highlights the iniquitous nature of this levy. I’ve said it countless times, ‘If the Games are going to benefit the nation as a whole, then the cost should be shared across the whole country’.


Susan Webb, Harold Hill:

ENOUGH SPEED CAMERAS

Further to the news item 'Speed Cameras Face Changes', there is enough money being made from motorists and there are enough speed cameras already, so no more.

20.3.06

Editor: Should we have more speed cameras or are they just money spinners? E.mail your view to 'Have Your Say'.


Roy Sears, Havering:

OLYMPIC LEVY AN ABUSE?

Council tax is for the council to provide services to the borough, additions for the Olympic Games is an abuse of this service and I would suggest illegal.

Other councils in the past have challenged Ken Livingstone on issues and won, why is Havering not taking this course?

19.3.06

Editor: As unfair as the levy is, the council has a legal obligation to collect the charge set by the Greater London Authority, and this includes the Olympic levy. See my comments below in response to a similar letter from Fiona Walker.


Fiona Walker, Havering:

OLYMPIC LEVY UNFAIR

I read your article (Poll Says Share the Cost) with great interest and wondered if you knew whether or not the Olympic levy is legal? Like you I don't recall being asked, I didn't want the Olympics and I won't be going to see them. I'm sure people other than Londoners will, but they don't appear to be having to pay for the next 12 years. I feel very strongly that this charge is wrong and unfair.

16.3.06

Editor: I’m afraid the Olympic Levy is indeed lawful, but far from fair.

On the matter of consultation, this was always very vague and the financial commitment expected from Londoners was poorly communicated.

The total cost of staging the Games is estimated at £3.9 bn, which is made up of an operating budget of £1.5 bn and an infrastructure budget of £2.4 bn.

While the £1.5 bn operating costs will be funded through TV rights, ticket sales, etc, the £2.4 bn infrastructure budget is to be created through a public funding package which has already been agreed between the Mayor of London and the Government. The package is made up of £1.5 billion from a dedicated lottery programme, £250 million from the London Development Agency and £625 million from London council taxpayers.

The average Olympic charge will be £20 per year for a typical Band D property, with a range of £13 for a band A property up to £40 for a band F property. The charge becomes effective from April 2006 and will continue for 10 years at £20 (band D) and £9 in year 11.

For Havering council taxpayers, the levy will generate around £1.7 million per year. While I am pleased we have the Games in 2012, I cannot see what benefits we will get for such a huge financial input.

I would reiterate that the fairest way to raise the £625m would be through general taxation across the country rather than adding to the significant burden already carried by Londoners in the form of council tax.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster RA:

IS BADGER CULL NECESSARY?

I have only once seen a live badger, and it was much larger than I expected. I know plenty of people who have never seen one, as they are quiet creatures who prefer to avoid confrontation – although they have a reputation for fighting if cornered.

It is with sadness that I learned of a possible consultation to cull them, as they are believed to spread TB in cattle. Even the RSPCA says that little can be proven and they think that the cattle may already be infected and are spreading the infection as they move around the country.

I am not an expert in cattle and TB, but I do take the word of the experts, it is a shame that the government do not in this case.

14.3.06

Editor: Is there a need for a Badger cull? Are there any experts out there who can shed light on the issue?


Brain Bays, Havering:

TAX, TAX AND MORE TAX

Higher and higher taxes, inheritance tax, G.L.A. tax, Olympic tax and lastly council tax which this year will once again absorb the increase in the government pension and more. There just seems to be no end to it.

To add insult to injury, I read of John Prescott’s draconian plan to set up an army of legalised snoopers to go around to check if home owners have central heating or a nice view from their window so as to burden them with even higher taxes. What is happening to this country? Does it not occur to anyone in government that tax on the money spent by home owners has already been taxed twice, once when they earned it and again when they spent it? Now he wants to tax them on the convenience of what they bought.

Shame on you John Prescott, it would seem that you have nothing better to do than dream up ways to rob the very people that trusted and elected you to protect them, and shame on any government who endorses such crackpot and underhand plans.

After such a long time in power, I think it is time for members of the government to stop and reflect on what they were elected to do, and not to betray the people by flagrantly robbing them left, right, and centre.

10.3.06

Editor: Taxation, in whatever form, supports public spending of around £519 billion this year, which is set to increase to £549 billion in 2006/07 and £580 billion in 2007/08.

Perhaps the most obnoxious of taxes is inheritance tax. For any estate valued over £275,000, the government will impose 40% tax on the excess. This is set to net the government £3.4 billion this year alone. How can it be fair to tax on what is earned, tax on what is spent, tax on what is saved and then tax it all again upon death?

While Australia, New Zealand and Canada manage to get by without charging any inheritance tax at all, the very least this government should do is to raise the limit to a more realistic £500,000 and link threshold increases with the house price index.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

PASTURES NEW

Reading the letter from Alan Silverstone (Save Our Green and Beautiful Country, 21.2.06) - isn't it terrible when someone has worked hard, bought a lovely house in a pleasant, green, tree rich area and then this happens.

Week after week, I throw my hands up in horror when I hear such appalling stories. I don't blame Mr Silverstone for moving...I just think it is a crying shame that decent and valuable people have to leave our community because of the policies and insensitivity of certain council departments. I thought that the council was supposed to be working with and for the community and our environment...... maybe I have got it all wrong.

10.3.06

Editor: Has the area suffered irreversibly from over development? What do you think – post your views to ‘Have Your Say’.


Lois Amos, Upminster:

FINES FOR NOT RECYCLING?

The saga of the Havering Recycling goes on. Locally I see many houses, often with families, not putting out any orange bags at all. Surely instead of all this lucky number prize scheme we should be putting money and energies into educating local people regarding their responsibilities to the community and their children's future. Also, I would certainly welcome financial rewards and also, penalties for not engaging in the recycling programme!

10.3.06

Editor: Should there be penalties for not recycling? Barnet council have made it compulsory to recycle and residents could face a fine of up to £1,000 for persistently not complying. What do other readers think? E.mail your view to ‘Have Your Say’.


Tony Burns, Grantham, Lincolnshire:

COUNCIL TAX RISE

Council tax in Havering is set to rise by 3.9%, the present rate of inflation is 1.9%. This represents a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich of 2% in fact Robin Hood in reverse. This cannot go on much longer, the sheer number of pensioners and poor all have votes. Let us hope they use them wisely.

22.2.06

Editor: It is worth bearing in mind that the 3.9% is made up of 1.7% for the Council element and 2.2% for the GLA - which includes £20 per year for the Olympic levy. The increase means an extra £52 a year equating to an annual council tax bill of £1,380 for an average Band D property. What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Alan Silverstone, Havering:

SAVE OUR GREEN AND BEAUTIFUL COUNRTY

My family lived in Havering for the past 10 years and have now decided that the last straw has been reached.

We are not tree-hugging hippies but just want to see that something of our once green and beautiful country is left to our kids. In Havering, the planning committee appear determined to wipe out every tree and green space in the name of progress.

We have an "Infill" development in Greenway the size of which would not be entertained in any other borough in the UK. We had to fight every inch of the way to get the development down from 9 to 5 dwellings and made sure that the two mature healthy Horse Chestnut trees on the site were given Tree Protection Orders (TPO).

Well, what a joke that turned out to be...apparently you can overturn a TPO in Havering by applying for permission to have them removed and give very little reason for so doing. It may not seem much to get upset about but it is the final insult.

We have put up with development by stealth, losing our hospitals, putting up with bus services that have an arrival time in a 10-minute window either side of the timetable slot, appalling crime statistics, and a hundred other things that would lead anyone to despair. But when you are told: "Well the trees couldn't be seen from the road and were therefore not considered to be of amenity importance", you realise that you are
fighting a lost cause.

Good luck with all that you are trying to do. As soon as we can sell we are off. I'll come back and visit when Maylands is a 900 house/flats estate!

21.2.06

Editor: Protecting the Green Belt from over development is essential, not only for this generation, but for the many to come. The headlong rush to build on any available space in the name of progress owes much to government targets imposed on council’s to build new homes. This is particularly evident along the Thames Gateway. Any new developments should always be built with the adequate infrastructure to support the community – but is this happening? What do other readers think? E.mail your view to ‘Have Your Say’.


Tony Burns, Grantham, Lincolnshire:

VOTING WITH OUR FEET

Regarding February editorial (Supporting the GLA Empire), of course it doesn't represent value for money - which is why we voted with our feet and moved to Grantham!

18.2.06

Editor: This is an example where actions speak louder than words!


Alan Paul, Cranham:

THE WIND IS SOUTH WEST

Perhaps I can assist in the query raised by Sharon Brown (Letter, 11.2.06) asking about wind direction in Cranham. As I run upminsterweather.co.uk, I have looked at last years wind direction data and can say for certain that the prevailing wind is definitately South West.

12.2.06

Editor:Thanks very much for that. Are there any 'weather' questions or queries out there? Why not e.mail 'Have Your Say'.


Sharon Brown, Cranham:

M25 TREE SCREENING

This may seem an obscure question but I watched on T.V. the other evening 'Location Location' and they mentioned one should always know the direction of the prevailing wind for their locality. Does anyone know the direction of the prevailing wind for Cranham?

I ask this because of the noise of the M25 and how it sometimes seems louder than at other times. Also, with this in mind, are there any plans to screen with trees once the widening has taken place. I understand this will be within the perimeters of the road at present, am I correct? I wonder if Thames Chase would be interested in planting trees along the road as I am sure this would result in less noise and pollution.

11.2.06

Editor: There is no doubt that the prevailing wind and cloud cover can accentuate the noise from the M25. Not sure what the prevailing wind is in Cranham – perhaps a reader can let us know? The M25 road widening scheme is not due for many years in this vicinity and details of tree screening are probably not known yet. However, I am sure that tree/shrub planting will take place for the reasons you point out.


Terry Emms, Upminster:

SAGA OF ORANGE BAGS

Like the rest of us, I have just received my copy of "Living Havering", the Borough's newspaper. I have to say that in general I found it interesting and good value for the cost of 9p a copy to produce and deliver.

But it was at least unfortunate to find that in an issue devoted in large part to the theme of recycling, somebody omitted to list plastic shopping bags as an item we are no longer allowed to put in the orange bags!

Phrases like left and right hand, and shooting oneself in the foot spring to mind!

Perhaps we can look forward to some definitive guidance in the next issue!

11.2.06

Editor: The issue of plastic carrier bags not being suitable for orange recycling bags certainly featured in the local press and on this website (No plastic bags for orange sacks, 18.12.05). I understand that when the new recycling plant opens at Frog Island later this year, plastic bags will once again be collected and dealt with in a dedicated sorting area. In the meantime, there are many plastic bag recycling deposit boxes outside many of the main supermarkets inHavering.


Christine Morton, Hornchurch:

HORNCHURCH ON THE UP AS WELL!

Regarding the 'Upminster on the up' letter, I think Hornchurch is on the up as well! We just got a new Costa coffee on the High Street, and a
new French bakery (patisserie/boulangerie) is opening soon also on the High Street. Ooh La La!

Add that to a freshly redone library with £1 million in investment, and I'd say Hornchurch is on the up!

10.2.06

Editor: Are there any other areas in Havering on the up? Or even on the down? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Dave Blackwell, Leader of the Canvey Island Independent Party:

PEOPLE REPRESENTING PEOPLE

Your 'Lesson from the Past' item I think sums up the nanny state we live in . I believe people are tired of politics and will look to groups like
yourselves, and hopefully ours, to lead the way in the community - people representing people not polictical parties. All the best.

9.2.06

Editor: Thanks for that Dave. The growth of independent groups on the political landscape is a surely a sign of peoples lack of empathy with mainstream parties. What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have 'Your Say'.


Barry Haddon, Upminster:

UPMINSTER ON THE UP!

So, some good news at last! - A Marks & Spencer Food Hall coming to Upminster (Changing Roomes, 21.1.06). What next?

I have to say, I was starting to think there was a hidden agenda somewhere to bring Upminster down. For too long now, it seems established and respectable businesses have closed or moved elsewhere, only to be replaced by charity shops, takeaways and down-market shops. Not to overlook the housing market, which seems to have lost its attractiveness and value, but then that's probably another issue.

Maybe this latest news is what Upminster needs to kick-start a regeneration programme. Dare we hope that more quality shops/restaurants may follow, certainly if this latest plan goes ahead?

Serious questions need to be asked if the latest proposal isn't allowed to happen.

2.2.06

Editor: The proposals put forward by Roomes will certainly provide a springboard for the regeneration and revitalisation of Upminster. The CURE (Committee for the Regeneration of Upminster) group has existed for a number of years and will certainly be focusing on the benefits that can be derived from this exciting redevelopment.

What do other readers think? Is this just what Upminster needs? E.mail your views to Have Your Say


JOYCE ELLIS, CRANHAM:

OGLETHORPE PANTO PAST TIMES

When reading the article about the Oglethorpe Players, I realised that the first panto was in fact Aladdin in or around 1978 and I was Princess Jasmine, I even have an old paper cutting of it.

My friend wrote the script and she was also the initiator of the Oglethorpe School Parents Association, which is how the pantomimes began in order to raise money for the school.

The following year was Cinderella and I have photos of that performance also, kindly taken by the husband of one of the players. At around the same time, we entered the Cranham Carnival, again I have photos of our now seemingly pathetic entry but oh they were happy, innocent times.

1.2.06

Editor: It would be interesting to see the photos – perhaps we can run a feature on this? Are there any more memories readers would like to share? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


J. Ellis, Cranham:

PLASTIC BAGS & RECYCLING

I recently read that we must not now put plastic bags in the orange bags for disposal. I thought I was being so clever by doing this and that it was a great way to be rid of them. Is there a distinction between the free plastic supermarket bags and others ?

18.1.06

Editor: The council have indeed requested that residents stop putting plastic carrier bags in orange recycling sacks as they contaminate other recyclable materials. It is planned that when the new recycling plant opens at Frog Island later this year, plastic bags will then be included in a dedicated sorting area.

In the meantime, there are numerous ‘plastic bag’ recycling units placed outside our larger supermarkets where the bags can be deposited.


Joyce Ellis, Cranham:

PLENTY ON OFFER AT CRANHAM COMMUNITY CENTRE

Last October, I started a keep fit class for over 60's in Cranham Community Centre in Avon Road. I found out about it by chance and have been similarly surprised at all the other activities that are carried out there i.e. watercolour painting, indoor bowls, even a small library. Does everyone know about these ?

I would hate to think people are missing out on activities that they could be enjoying simply becasuse they didn't know.

17.1.06

Editor: We shall gather some information together on whats available at the Cranham Community Centre and feature on this website.


Terry Emms, Upminster:

NHS TRUST £7.7m BLACK HOLE

The Trust which covers Barking, Havering and Redbridge hospitals is clearly not the only one across the country announcing such results.

My first question is a plea for information as to what machinery exists for calling the managers to account. Is there a brief booklet available which might
explain what bodies exist, their terms of reference etc and how often they meet?

Did the monitoring body discover the deficit or did the Trust confess the deficit after the event? I had understood that best practice monitoring of
public accounts requires the comparison of periodic reports against a planned "profile" or forecast. Was a deficit actually planned, perhaps because the
managers refused to reduce patient care or other desirable services?

Do any of these issues come within the ambit of the Borough Council, and hence potentially within the sphere of Councillors' influence?

Finally, how important is the deficit, anyway, if there are solid means of making it good?

7 Jan 2006

Editor: Even though the overall NHS budget for 2005/06 stands at £76.4bn, more than double the £34.7bn figure for 1997/98, many NHS trusts across the country are heading towards year end overspends. However, the financial accounts of the NHS trust does indeed fall outside the remit of the local authority.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Robert Harris, Upminster:

STOPPING THE COWBOYS

The January 2006 issue of ‘The Bulletin’ includes a front page item on ‘Stopping the Cowboys’ to which I would make the following observations.

1. Two years ago a gardener knocked at the door asking if we wanted any tree pruning work. Yes, can you remove that old apple tree? O.K. £150.- Fine we said and it was done and dusted (Cowboy or just to establish a business?)

2. I was looking for an Electrician to replace our old fuse box with a consumer
unit. I chose one from ‘The Bulletin’ - estimate £340.Too much I thought (I
was aware of the cost of one, therefore approx £200 for fixing) No way. I
had a recommendation from a friend. £100 cheaper (done and dusted).

3. From ‘The Bulletin’ I decided to call a roofing company for some repairs. They duly called round and said, we can do this, we can do that and so on. We'll let you know next week. Since then , nothing.

4. Just before Xmas I discovered I needed a piece of guttering replaced/repaired (I couldn't do it myself as it was to dangerous) I had a flyer through the door. Builder(local), no job too big or too small, I called him, he came around and I pointed out the problem. I'll phone you next week he said! Nothing since?

What are residents supposed to do? You call supposedly reputed people and
nothing happens or they overcharge?

5.1.06

Editor: Sadly there are service providers the length and breadth of the country who promise much and deliver little. Whether it is a one-man operation or an international telecommunications giant, examples of poor customer care and ‘not so good value for money’ are common. Have readers any other examples of customer care (good or bad)? E.mail Have Your Say.


Tony Burns, Grantham, Lincolnshire:

SPEED LIMITS NEED ENFORCEMENT

I note the proposal to seek a 20mph speed limit in some parts of Havering. As the present speed limits are rarely enforced, due to lack of money, it would seem a little silly to spend a further £60,000 to no effect - what next a man walking in front with a red flag? It would make more sense to use the £60,000 to enforce the existing speed and parking rules.

This together with Cross-Rail, the Olympics and the GLA precept are four good reasons for moving away from the GLA area.

29.1.06

Editor: Like any other law or restriction, suitable enforcement is essential for there to be any impact. However, the £60,000 is a designated sum specifically allocated for the scheme and is funded by Transport for London (TfL). As such, any flexibility to use this money for parking/speeding enforcement is not an option.


Lois Amos (avid recycler and conservationist), Upminster:

COMPATIBLE PLASTIC BAGS?

Is the latest ban on putting plastic bags in the orange plastic sacks because the new type of photodegradable plastic is not being recognised by the equipment at the recycling MRF? Could someone please investigate this? Tesco and PC World have been using new recycling type carriers, surely some of these bags are degradable and could be disposed of in composted waste?

There are new types of 'plastic' bags made from cornstarch that the worms love and demolish in the compost bins! I believe that some Local Authorities use these for their green waste.

Also, if Barking and Dagenham can collect household green waste from private households why can't Havering?

29.12.05

Editor: The council will be launching a fortnightly 'green waste' collection from the spring that will pick up green waste bags from private properties AND compost the contents!

As for plastic carrier bags, I'm not sure about the degradable type but will find out and report back on this site.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

ELECTED COUNCILLORS - IS LESS MORE?

Of the 19,857 elected members in England, the average age of a councillor is 57.8 years. Why is this? Is it because being a councillor is not an attractive career for young people? Or is it that the job demands more experience?

If you look at the candidates from all parties for next year, I can't pick out one who is under 40.

Those who are older certainly have more experience and are more likely to be financially stable. At a salary of less than £9,000 per year, what young person would do the job in addition to their regular job? Younger people are more likely to be "just starting out," and may not have the time to devote to public service.

But are we missing out on the ideology of youth, with innovation, and more technological experience? Can this change? No one wants to see the total salary costs expended in Havering increase; yet arguably there is a case for attracting younger people into local politics to allow for more representative government.

I propose that three councillors are not necessary for a ward's work, especially if the only one that matters are the ones that sit on the Cabinet. With 18 wards, why can't we combine the three salaries from each ward into one post, and have one representative from each ward on a full-time, £27,000 p.a. post? All would then sit on an 18 member Cabinet. It would attract people who want to serve the council fully, it would ensure that each ward had a representative on the Cabinet, and it wouldn't increase the total salary budget.

23.12.05

Editor: The Electoral Commission have just completed a twelve-week public consultation on the way local government electoral arrangements are carried out in England. Among the topics covered is the number of councillors which are elected. It will be interesting to see what conclusions are drawn from that exercise.

Many people, young and old alike, feel disengaged from the political process of democratic representation. At a national level, the difference between the main parties has become blurred and the tendency to focus of negative campaigning, with its customary style of ‘yah boo’ politics, only serves to put people off rather than to become involved.

The suggestion that reducing the number of councillors from 54 to 18 and to provide a salary of £27,000 pa, may well have the opposite effect on young people as fewer opportunities will increase the competition and narrow the chance to get a foot on the ladder.
The primary driving force for those seeking public office should be to serve the people they represent to the best of their ability. At a local level the introduction of allowances for councillors has courted controversy on a regular basis and there are still many who would advocate a return to unpaid service.

It was not until 1911 that MPs were paid at all in England, at that time Lloyd George said: ”That payment is not meant to be a salary but an allowance in recognition of the magnitude of service which enables people to render an incalculable service”.

What do readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.



Mr D. R. Smith, Romford:

A QUESTION OF RUBBISH

With reference to the article in the December issue of ‘The Bulletin’ regarding refuse collection, I put my orange and black sacks out on a Thursday evening for collection at about 6.30am the following morning. I am an OAP, and if the author of the article thinks I am going to stagger out on a cold winters morning with two sacks at 6am, in my dressing gown, I offer them the opportunity to call round to my address and put the sacks out for me!

With regard to your letter about green recycling sacks, I religiously purchase them for the excess composting material from my garden – as a matter of interest, Brentwood Council sell recycling/composting sacks at TEN for a pound to residents - and the contents are composted! I also wonder, as this council seems to land-fill just about everything, just how many of the orange bags are sorted and recycled after they have been squashed into the back of a dustcart with all the other nameless contents?

One thing which nobody seems to have thought about is, how long are the green and black bags going to take to break down in a landfill site? I think we are storing up trouble for our grandchildren by burying all these bags at one time most rubbish rusted or decomposed in a very short time when buried, but now there are thousands of plastic bags being added to the equation.

22.12.05

Editor: The issue of green ‘compost’ bags being dumped with black bags in land-fill has raised many concerns from RA councillors and residents alike. Following these concerns, we are informed that a fortnightly green waste collection will be launched in the Spring – and that the contents will be composted!

We have had a number of letters asking what really happens to the orange recycling sacks and our article (Orange Bag Survival Test, 24.11.05) sets out the process which should allay any fears that the contents are chucked into landfill along with general refuse.

The matter of plastic carrier bags is currently a hot topic, with the Council asking that they should not be put into the orange recycling bags as they contaminate the other recyclable materials.

It is a concern that each year in the UK we get through around 20 billion plastic bags! Perhaps we should adopt the system used in Ireland where there is a 9p tax per bag – after the first three months of it’s introduction (March 2002), bag usage dropped by 90%!

What do readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say



Adam Hiley, Upminster:

OPTING OUT OF LONDON?

I am asking the residents Associations of Havering to launch a campaign to get Havering out of the GLA and back with into Essex CC where there are lower taxes, better Police and healthcare.

14.12.05

Editor:This is a subject which is raised regularly and clearly generates a lot of passion. However, there are some practical matters to consider before launching into anything. For example: It would require primary legislation to opt out the GLA, it would need the agreement of the other London boroughs, why do we assume that Essex would want to incorporate Havering? Surely they would have to agree! What sort of cost would be incurred in making such a change? Should we be lobbying for more from Ken Livingstone through our GLA member?….and so on.

What do other readers think? Send your comments to Have Your Say.


C. Newson, Upminster:

SIGN OF THE TIMES?

Entering Upminster Park from Brookdale Avenue a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that a shiny new sign had appeared at the entrance welcoming me to Upminster Park!

My first reaction was "Why on earth do we need a sign there for"? My second reaction was to chuckle to myself wondering how long it would be before the yobs had sprayed graffiti on it. Sure enough, this week, as I entered the park again the sign had been obliterated by graffiti.

Why do these faceless people at the council feel the need to spend my money on these unnecessary and useless signs and other street furniture? The only purpose they serve is for the yobs to vandalise and make our town look scruffy. So please stop it.

9.12.05

Editor: Signs and notices may well be vulnerable to graffiti, but they also serve a useful purpose - to provide information. The best way to tackle graffiti is to clean it off straight away, if it appears again - then clean it off again. It may seem a little like the labour of Sisyphus from Greek mythology (who was condemned forever to push a giant boulder up a hill, only to see it roll to the bottom, and then begin the task all over again) but on a practical level it is quite effective. It would, of course, be preferable to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators through the courts, but this usually depends on catching the individuals in action.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Terry Emms, Havering:

EXPORTING RUBBISH?

I assume you will eventually report any progress on the issue of garden waste in green bags which we have to pay for but which then are disposed of as general household waste in landfill.

Meanwhile this whole topic would benefit from some more investigative
journalism, it seems to me. BBC TV ("Real Story" 5 Dec) found UK waste in
Indonesia which had originally been separately sorted in UK households into
recyclable and landfill material.

Having watched the BIFFA collection vehicles as they go around our streets, I
have long wondered why most of us go to the trouble of separating recyclable
waste into orange bags only to see the orange bags thrown into the same
compressing machinery as the rest of the rubbish in black bags. Am I blissfully unaware of some of the facts here, or is this a kind of "emperor's new clothes" question which does not get asked?

Is some of Havering's waste also being exported to the Far East, and if so what are the financial circumstances which make such ostensibly ridiculous logistics worthwhile? Although the orange bags are free to us they presumably still reckon as a cost to the Council.

8.12.05

Editor: A new system of collecting green waste has been promised by the council and is set to become operational in spring 2006. The government have given Havering council £180,000 to finance the scheme which will see two green waste collections per week and all the contents being composted.

Our news item (Orange Bag Survival Test, 24.11.05) sets out the process which the orange bags go through. The key point is that the orange bags and black bags are separated at the sorting facility and the recyclable contents further separated into bales before being processed into useful products.

The suggestion that some of Havering’s waste is being exported to the Far East must beg the question ‘why?’. There can be little economic sense in shipping tonnes of rubbish half way around the world with no clear purpose.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say..


Geoffrey Farmer, Upminster:

RUBBISH TIMES!

I must complain about the article in the December 'Bulletin' regarding refuse sacks. I appreciate that refuse sacks left out overnight can attract vermin, indeed the contents of my sack were strewn over my garden this week. However the blame for this situation must be laid at the feet of the council.

There are many people, including me, who are unable to put their sacks out
before 7am on collection day. As a 'customer' of the council I expect them to do what is required in line with my requirements, not the other way around.

I do not want to leave my refuse sack out overnight but I have no option. If the
collections started at 9am there would be no problem as far as I am concerned.

2.12.05

Editor: What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.



Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster (RA):

NEW LICENSING LAWS MAZE

These must be the one of the most complex set of laws ever to be introduced by any government and came into effect on 24th November.

Basically, if you perform any display of dancing or music to an audience, whether paying or not, you will need a licence – unless the building you are performing in already has a licence in it’s own right!

So far the Queens Theatre is covered and the New Windmill Hall (Upminster) soon will be – but if you are performing anywhere else you will need to check.

There are several grey areas. In theory any school putting on a nativity play or Christmas concert needs a licence as would a group performing at an old-age peoples home. Church services and talks are exempt as these are not considered to be performances. Also, and I kid you not, is Morris Dancing!

If you wish to find out more please call the council on 01708 432776 – but please do not blame them, it’s a government directive, not a Council one.

25.11.05


Gwynne Baines, Upminster:

PARK DRIVE SPEEDING CONCERNS

Further to my letter of Oct 17th, it has been very pleasing to see the flashing speeding signs around Havering and I am sure they make people consider the speed at which they are driving.

I would just like to say that as a resident of Park Drive, Upminster, which is a fairly wide, straight stretch of road, I feel left out. There is no indication as to the speed limit of this built up area and the speed of some drivers can be as much as 60mph.

We need some restriction of speed down this road before a child (or adult) is injured or worse. Have Park Drive residents been forgotten, I hope not!

21.11.05

Editor: Perhaps the matter could be raised at the next Upminster, Cranham & Emerson Park Area Cttee Forum, which is on 15th December (7:30) at St Lukes Church in Cranham. This is an official council forum so any points raised
must be minuted and reported upon, also the press attend each meeting which
gives the forum added exposure. Unless otherwise stated, the speed limit in built up areas is 30mph.


Barbara Smith, Romford:

BURDEN OF COUNCIL TAX SET TO GROW

With regard to Bernard Boakes letter of 19th October regarding council tax increases, I have to say that I fear for the young and old alike.

As your editor states, the Lyons report is not now due until the end of 2006. Once this report has been published, the information it contains on local government spending will be used to ascertain how much can be added to our council tax to help fund the Crossrail scheme. Any increase in council tax for this project will be in addition to the increase we are to face to fund the Olympics, which in turn will be on top of cost of living increases.

We are told that we should expect to pay an additional £20pa, per (band D) household, for 12 years to cover the cost of the Olympics but there is to be no upper limit on the increase they could impose should it go over budget. I cannot imagine a situation whereby our council tax will reduce by £20pa after 12 years.

As for any increase to fund the Crossrail scheme, at first quarter 2002 prices the scheme was due to cost £10.1bn and was not expected to realise a return for 40 years. At the second reading of the Crossrail bill, the transport minister had to concede that the cost has risen by 50% in three years, to £16bn at 2005 prices.

My point is, any addition to council tax to pay for this project will be with us to stay for our lifetime and possibly that of our children. So yes, I do really worry about this additional strain on our elderly residents but I also worry about our young folk who will be likely to bear this burden long after we're gone. It is hard enough for them to get their foot on the housing ladder as it is, without facing these additional hidden taxes.

Before I go, can I just say what a beautifully presented website this is. It is a real credit to you.

21.11.05

Editor:

Thanks for your kind words.

The increasing burden of the council tax is unsustainable for many thousands of people. To then add the Olympic levy and the possibility of a Crossrail levy on the council tax bill for Londoners is surely unacceptable.

Ken Livingstone claims that the Crossrail link will benefit the British economy by £19bn and effectively produce a profit for the Treasury. This highly dubious figure is based on the creation of 27,000 jobs (£8bn), business clustering in the south-east (£3bn) and £8bn increase in the productivity of the existing workforce, which includes a £3.8bn saving from quicker journey times.

While I have a fundamental question mark over the real value of an east –west rail link across London in proportion to cost. The projected benefits raise many questions – while journeys across London can already be undertaken with relative ease, how will 27,000 more jobs be created? How does quicker journey times translate into a £3.8bn saving? On what basis were these calculations arrived at?

On a more practical level, who will really benefit from Crossrail? Is there really such a need for it ? Does it represent good value for money?

How these estimates have been arrived at is anyone’s guess, but what can be confidently predicted is that the estimated £10.1 building costs would increase substantially if the project ever goes ahead.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster (RA):

DEER MOVE WELCOME

I am very pleased to see that the plans to cull the deer at Bedfords Park have been quashed and the animals will now be transported to Scotland, where they will roam the highlands along with other deer.

It would be churlish to complain, but as usual I was not told of the news but only found out through the local press. This may make one cynical as if I had not found out about this then I would not have found out if they had been culled.

Too often recently, complaints have been met with an assurance that the matter is already being dealt with. But are they? Or is it that we, the opposition, when querying matters instigate anything?

I have been an animal lover and vegetarian for much longer than I have been a councillor and I am delighted that the deer are safe, living out their lives in a much better home – so lets all give thanks for that.

3.11.05

Editor: Some 40 deer are to be moved at a cost of £15,000 to a better home, the other options were to expand the pen or to carry out a cull. What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Ron Johnson, Harold Wood:

OPEN UP CORNFLOWER WAY TO EASE A12

Over the past few years the volume of traffic using Gubbins Lane has increased significantly. At times it becomes a nightmare for local residents who, in many cases, only wish to get to the Tesco stores at Gallows Corner. Having negotiated Gubbins Lane they are then faced with the A12 - one of the busiest roads in the county.

Is it not time that Cornflower way was reopened, thus easing the daily congestion of Gubbins Lane and, of course, the A12?

1.11.05

Editor: What do other readers think? Should Cornflower Way be opened up again? Would it ease congestion? What other alternatives are there? Send your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

STAMP DUTY BONANZA

Why is there such a large jump in stamp duty on home prices at the £250,000 mark? A homebuyer purchasing a home at £250,000 pays 1% in stamp duty, but should the price jump to £250,001, the homebuyer would pay 3% in stamp duty. Is the extra £5,000 in tax justified?

With the London average home price at well over £200,000, perhaps it's time for a rethink of stamp duty, to a more flat system that doesn't have such a drastic jump at the £250,000 level. What do you think?

20.10.05

Editor: Stamp Duty raises around £3.8 billion a year for the Treasury. The lower threshold was raised at the last budget giving the following bands: Up to £120,000 = nil, £120,001 to £250,000 = 1%, £250,001 to £500,000 = 3% and £500,001 plus = 4%.

This is simply a very easy tax raising device for the government and any radical rethink is very unlikely as long as the property market remains relatively stable.

But why should all the duty go to the Chancellor? In terms of Havering, there were 4,672 property sales in 2004 raising some £12.7m for the Treasury. I would suggest that a proportion of that sum should go directly to the Local Authority. Based on 2004 figures, if only one quarter of one per cent were redirected to the Council, it would equate to approximately £2.4 million. This would go a long way towards keeping down our council tax and providing funds for much needed local services.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Bernard Boakes, Cranham:

COUNCIL TAX – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

According to recent press reports, it appears that the council tax may rise by 7 per cent next year. Surely now is the time to start a campaign to limit the rise in council tax to the increase in the cost of living. Old age pensioners and people on low incomes cannot keep paying this grossly unfair tax.

There must be many ways in which the council can save money, starting with the publications sent out by the council most of which are just put in the bin unread. The council must be made to understand that they have to budget as we have to. They cannot keep taking larger and larger amounts of money from the residents of Havering without any regard to their ability to pay.

Enough is enough; strong action is required to concentrate the minds of people who can make a difference. Local councils should band together to refuse to keep taking on more and more obligations that are not funded by the Government. They must make a stand if this very unfair tax is to be changed . This form of taxation is worse than the Poll Tax.

19.10.05

Editor: Council Tax in Havering has increased by 28.1% over the last four years (compared with the London average of 29.3%) and we pay the third highest rate in Greater London. It is clearly unfair to keep imposing increases which outstrip inflation and any increases applied to pensions and fixed incomes. The government is reviewing the whole issue of Council funding and the Council Tax (Lyons Review) but the outcome has now been deferred to the end of 2006.

The endless raft of duties imposed on Councils for which they are not funded places an enormous strain on resources. While Central Government provide around 75% of council expenditure, the remaining 25% has to accommodate for increased budget demands which are not necessarily funded centrally. The Council, as with all households, must cut their own cloth – but it is imperative that the whole matter of adequate funding in the first place is dealt with urgently and not put back again.

What do readers think? E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’.


G. Farmer, Havering:

PARKING TICKETS - FAIR FOR ALL?

Further to the news item regarding the low number of parking tickets issued by Havering Council (2.10.05), it is interesting to note that the Council wants to be fair to motorists - how about being fair to the rest of us?

If someone is parked illegally they should expect to get a ticket. The parking laws are not enacted so that the Council can pick-and-choose when to issue fines.

Clicking on the Cranham Regeneration link of this website and viewing the images portrayed, it is interesting to note how many cars are parked illegally.

14.10.05

Editor: In 2004/05 Havering issued the lowest number of parking tickets in London (37,944). While there are often stories about parking tickets being issued unfairly (eg at a funeral, nursing visits, etc), there is a perception that enforcement in some areas is almost non-existent. The Council have said that ‘they only issue tickets when necessary’, it would therefore be interesting to know what is deemed unnecessary!


Roy Hunting, Cranham:

SPEEDING & PARKING IN CRANHAM

Speeding -

There is no shortage of racing tracks in Cranham, but two in particular are
Front Lane and Moor Lane. A disabled person trying to cross the road in Front
Lane from the car park to the opposite side and unable to walk to the pedestrian crossing is at a very high degree of risk.

I have seen vehicles of all types totally ignore the speed limit and warning signs and appear to deliberately want to run down pedestrians with some drivers making rude and offensive remarks.

Traffic from the Wantz Bridge direction come at such a speed over the railway bridge that they pose a danger to vehicles leaving the car park.

Moor Lane is regarded by some drivers as a free run for speeding even in the
area where there is parking on both of the road outside the shops, but the real
danger is to traffic coming out of the side turnings, particularly where vision
is partially obscured by bad parking or uncut hedges.

Parking -

The parking of vehicles at bus stops, double yellow lines and illegal use of
disabled bays should be stopped but of course the area is not patrolled. The comments made by Ron Ower in the October Bulletin, under the heading Hall Lane Speeding, sum up the lack of consideration shown by some drivers.

11.10.05

Editor: Speeding and parking issues are frequently raised at our Ward meetings and Area Committees. Only last month, Upminster & Cranham RA Chairman Ron Ower wrote to the Council to highlight the problems of parking in bus bays in Cranham Village. More patrols are now in the pipeline, so we shall see! What do you think? e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Tony Burns, Upminster:

WEALTH GAP WIDENS

The wealth gap between the rich and the poor was stable between 1992 and 1997. The poorest 10% in society now receive 3% of the nations total income whereas the richest 10% receive more than 25% of the wealth created. This gap is now greater than in Victorian times.

This is steadily getting worse, between 1990 and 2000 the percentage of wealth held by the wealthiest increased from 47% to 54% and share of the wealthiest top 1% rose from 18% to 23%.

This did not happen by accident. In order to get elected Blair promised not to raise the standard rate of tax. He did not say he would he would clobber ordinary people by a variety of stealth taxes of which Council tax is only one example. In 12 years the average Council tax has risen by 123% thus attacking pensioners and the poorest members of the community this from a so called socialist government.

There has been a massive shift of tax from the poor to the rich. Take pensions we are told the nation cannot afford to pay old age pensions. Yet Gordon Brown is giving 40% tax relief to higher rate taxpayer to include property and fine wine in their pension portfolio. It has been estimated that these concessions could cost the treasury some £50 billion. So who can't afford what?

This massive transfer from poor to the rich is so unfair it would be difficult to understand how this happened. Until you realise that all politicians who have made these decisions all pay tax of at least 40% unless of course they have already taken advantage of the generous allowance to buy second homes.

One of the reasons why my wife and I are moving is because we can no longer afford to support the wealthy people living in Upminster.

Sylvia Hardy is now facing a further term of imprisonment, she may make an unlikely Wat Tyler but there will be others until this unfair tax goes the way of the Poll tax.

9.10.05

Editor: The law treats non-payment of Council Tax, and indeed TV licence fee, as a criminal offence. Is it right that we should be placing pensioners in our already full prisons for this offence? Perhaps it is time to reclassify these matters as a civil debt? What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

HOSPITAL FOOD

My 16 month old son had an accident Monday morning and we had to rush off to A&E. He had surgery yesterday morning at Harold Wood, and fortunately is fine.

They offered me the kids menu for his lunch. I was HORRIFIED. Every single item was with chips – sausage and chips, fish and chips, burger and chips, you get the idea. I told the consultant I was horrified, and he said "we just want to keep the kids happy" and managed a weak smile.

I ordered dinner for him off the adult menu, and he had chicken casserole, savoury rice and cauliflower. Loved it. The nurses were amazed. DUH. If you feed a kid garbage they will learn that is what people EAT.

So, what do you think? Should we be in the business of keeping sick kids "happy" whilst in hospital, or should the NHS focus on keeping kids HEALTHY?!

5.10.05

Editor: Good news that your son is fine. The debate regarding the content of school dinners has raged for many months and improvements seem to be working through the system. There does seem to be a contradiction in feeding children junk food in a place totally geared towards health care. Perhaps we need to send Jamie Oliver into hospital kitchens to sort out the kids meals? What do readers think? Send your e.mails to ‘Have Your Say’.


AS, Upminster:

FOLKES LANE - THANKS

I am very pleased to learn that the proposed Meat Rendering Plant in Folkes Lane has been withdrawn. I would just like to thank the Residents' Association for supporting the opposition and for keeping us updated through the excellent website.

1.10.05

Editor: The huge public response to this application reflected the strength and
depth of opinion against this proposal. It was pleasing that the collective voice of the community was heard loud and clear. The Residents' Association will continue to strive to protect the interests of all residents and will certainly follow any future developments with great interest.


Lois Amos, Havering:

GREEN WASTE COLLECTIONS A SCANDAL

I am a passionate gardener and environmentalist, and in my capacity as a horticultural lecturer inform and enthuse all my students in the art and science of composting and recycling. I too have raised the issue of collected green waste myself with the council (to no avail). I ensure that all my students know the ins, outs and joys of compost.

I was disgusted and appalled to establish months/years ago just what John Robinson (News, Sept 21) is revealing. It is scandalous that the council is not recycling the green waste in bags, it is almost amoral!

Other boroughs such as Brentwood, Barking and Dagenham and Epping etc. have a recycling green waste bag collection system and some even are developing local community waste systems.

Also in other Boroughs the Compost Bins available to the public through their schemes are in most cases FREE and also the bins are larger and of superior quality and available with NO DELIVERY CHARGE!

Come on Havering, what do you all take us for?

Just to complicate and hopefully expand this issue further.....Our Borough does not recycle street tree leaves as far as i know. I have had several clashes with them over this, and to my knowledge they regularly tip literally tons of leaves in the landfill. The excuse is that they contain pollutants and particulates and also may have sharps, litter etc. Bunk! How come Richmond and other London Boroughs manage to compost theirs into superb leaf mould.

Some of this 'black gold' is over ten years old....marvellous! I have even complained and tried to chase a Borough collection lorry away from where I work, where there are dozens of wonderful mature deciduous trees whose leaves are clean and there is no litter whatsoever. Sadly last year most of the leaves went away from the site......I wonder if they were landfilled?
What happens to the leaves in your street?

21.9.05

Editor: The issue of what happens to the contents of green waste sacks has certainly sparked concerns. What is the point of residents paying 90p a bag only to have it lumped in with all the other black bags and deposited in a landfill? It would just as easy to use a standard black bag and append a label saying green waste! In addition, the distinct impression that residents would have is that the contents would go off to be composted – it would appear that this is not the case!

Any other views? E.mail Have Your Say


LUXURY LOO ABANDONED

Council plans to spend not a penny but £460,000 on a new toilet block in Romford Market Place have been flushed away.

The new facility was set to replace the temporary toilets, which have been there for about 20 years, but has now been scrapped in favour of a cheaper option.

The revised scheme, which will feature two hydra toilets at a cost £82,000 to install and £28,000 annual rent, is now the preferred way forward.

17.9.05


Bill Amos, Havering:

DEALING WITH JUNK MAIL

Regarding junk mail - when a post-paid reply envelope is included I like to tear up whatever was sent (making sure my name and address has been removed), put the pieces in the envelope and post it back. A bit childish but hopefully it will annoy someone else as it does me when I receive it!

15.9.05

Editor: Any other examples of dealing with junk mail?


Mrs Taylor, Upminster:

FOLKES LANE OBJECTION

We wish to make an objection to the application for a Meat Rendering Plant in
Folkes Lane, Upminster (Application no. P1599.05).

We believe the smell will be unbearable for all the surrounding residents. Cranham and Upminster residents will also be sufficiently near to suffer the disgusting aromas as they will be blown across on the winds. We know this will happen from previous experience from muck spreading from the same direction.

Folkes Lane is already a hazardous road, due to the large lorries that already
use it. Anyone who has had to navigate it will agree the road is already in a
bad state of repair and the edges are ploughed up with large grooves from all
the cars and lorries that have had to pull over sharpish to avoid a collision.

On top of this there will be the hazard from all the extra lorries turning in
and out of Folkes Lane into the A127.

We are asking you to please help us fight this application for the benefit of
all your constituents.

15.9.05

Editor: There has been a huge amount of concern regarding this proposal and the best way of registering your objection is to place it in writing to:

Planning Control Manager
Mercury House
Mercury Gardens
Romford
RM1 3SL

or by e.mail - planning@havering.gov.uk

Please remember to quote the planning application number - P1599.05

Further updates will appear on this site.


Samantha Maguire, Elm Park:

PARKING TICKET ISSUE RESOLVED

Further to my letter of 19th July, may I just express my gratitude for your support with the situation regarding the parking ticket. It was resolved satisfactorily, but sadly only due to my medical circumstances. I feel that parking in our street (Ennerdale Avenue, Elm Park) will still incur many more charges for a lot of the residents - but this battle was won.

7.9.05

Editor: Thanks for the update and your kind words. Are there any other examples of parking tickets being issued in extreme circumstances? E.mail Have Your Say.


Lois Amos, Havering:

RATS!

The vast amounts of rats running about, unchecked during the daytime in Clockhouse Gardens, Langtons, Raphael's Park to mention just three of our Public Parks - what is being done about them? Surely the Council has heard of Leptospirosis (Weils disease)? Parents of toddlers and duck feeders be warned!

6.9.05

Editor: Sightings of rats can be reported to the Council's Environmental Health Department at Mercury House. Telephone 01708 432777 or by e.mail to environmental.health@havering.gov.uk. A visit to the council website (www.havering.gov.uk) has an on-line facility for reporting such matters.


David Skinner, Coventry:

TRAFFIC POLICE AND THE COMPENSATION CULTURE

I am very impressed by the website. Congratulations.

In respect of the August and September editorials by Clarence Barrett, there are two simple answers to the problems raised.

A. (Sept Editorial) Deliberately driving without MOT and insurance should always mean a year's ban, and to do both without a licence should mean jail. I greatly favour random stops, as in Germany and elsewhere. But we do not have enough Police?

B. (August Editorial) The compensation culture could easily be stopped if Courts handed down heavy punitive damages for frivolous cases. But will they?

5.9.05

Editor: Thanks very much for the kind comment about the website.

A. The issue of sufficient police resources to deal with traffic matters was also raised by Christine Morton, who highlighted the issue of motorists using mobile phones while driving. The police occasionally mount major traffic operations where they pull in any suspicious vehicles along a well used stretch of road. This was evident last week along the A127 where the police seemed particularly busy. Of course, it is one thing to catch the errant motorists but it is then up to the courts, acting within the constraints of the Criminal Justice System, to impose the appropriate penalties.

B. The issue of handing down heavy punitive damages for frivolous cases may well help to deter the compensation culture, but the problem may be, in legal terms, in defining what is frivolous and what is not.

What do other readers think? Please send your views to Have Your Say.


AB, Upminster:

FUTURE OF FOCUS DO IT ALL?

I've just read 'The Bulletin' and have noticed a planning application for an Aldi supermarket to move into the now empty Focus store. I just want to say I'm totally against this and think it will be really bad for Upminster.

3.9.05


Anne D'olier, Romford:

PARKING ENFORCEMENT NEEDED

Further to the news item about Havering issuing the lowest number of parking tickets in London, I live in Dorset Avenue, Romford, and firmly believe that more parking tickets should be issued by Havering Council!

Cars are parked illegally on the yellow line all the time and I cannot recall the last time that I saw any form of parking enforcement in this road. I see parking control officers enforcing restrictions around the area of St. Edwards primary school frequently.

I have spoken at length with the relevant council department and was told that parking problems in this area were a result of increased parking control in other areas of Romford, so 'pushing' cars users into a zone where restriction enforcement is less stringent.

I have the misfortune to live where the yellow line ends, thus increasing the demand for parking spaces up the road so parking over, across my lowered driveway and indeed sometimes in it, is often the case ( Mums from school, shoppers, drivers who park for the day and bus drivers). This lack of consideration makes for exiting the driveway quite difficult, often dangerous and sometimes impossible! I was told that I could do nothing about it!

It now seems that to park a car over the dropped area of a lowered kerb is illegal and I shall now do my bit to raise Havering's tally of parking tickets issued by ringing the Council and requesting that a parking control officer comes to issue a ticket forthwith when cars partly block me in although it takes two 'phone calls to get any positive response!

When will the parking issue in this area be addressed by the Council?

2.9.05

Editor.

It was interesting to note the councils stance on this issue. Reading the story on the Havering council website there is quite a positive spin put on the matter. The Cabinet Member for StreetCare explains: “These figures show the Council tries to be fair to motorists by issuing tickets only when necessary. The aim of the wardens is to keep traffic moving. The figures also demonstrate the Council does not use the service as a cash cow."

However, residents may have a different view, hence the mini poll for September.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

FREEDOM! (BUT NOT BEFORE 9AM)

Just last week I was on a bus on my way to the office when I saw the following happen: an elderly couple were attempting to use their freedom passes to board, but as it was before 9am, they could not, and had to fish around for the £1.20 fare.

This is not the first time I've seen this happen. I've seen elderly women try to use their pass, only to be refused by the driver, and they got off the bus to wait until after 9am. These are obviously people who count their pennies.

I am embarrassed at how we treat those who hold such oddly-named freedom passes. Do they not need to get anywhere before 9am? Should they drive instead, and cause congestion? If the thought is that they take up space that fare-paying customers would be, shouldn't they just increase the number and frequency of the buses to accommodate them?

As of 1st September those under 16 can travel for free at any time on London buses. Why the inequality? Or is it the policy of Transport for London to honour thy Father and Mother, but only after 9AM?

1.9.05

Editor:

The curiously named freedom passes are available to people aged 60 years and over and those who are eligible by way of disability.

The elderly freedom pass can be used on Tube, bus, DLR and Tramlink services from 0900 Monday to Friday and at any time on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. However, the disabled freedom pass can be used on Tube, bus, DLR and Tramlink services without time restrictions.

As mentioned by Christine, from September 1st free travel will be extended to all children under-16 and to under-18s in full time education next year.

But why should over 60s not be allowed to use their pass before 9am? Do you have a view? E.mail your comments to ‘Have Your Say’.


Joseph Juvenal, Romford:

CONCERNS OVER PETTITS OVERPASS

Having been absolutely horrified post-traverse of the Pettits/Whiteshops overpass, I was compelled to contact the appropriate members of the community.

The mentioned overpass is an outrage -- a clear danger to the safety of the children who use it every day. The railing is ludicrously low, and as such, a sufficient gust of wind could cause a serious incident. The insufficient protection combined with the curved nature of the walkway is nothing short of criminal. To walk across is to experience vertigo and the realisation that something is seriously amiss with regards to town planning/health and safety.

I cannot believe that this bridge/walkover was passed as safe by Havering council.

Higher railing must be installed before something tragic occurs -- I would suggest that the height be raised one third, or possibly by one half.

How many other citizens have to cross a busy junction in order to avoid risking their lives by using this vertiginous health-hazard?

I will not rest until renovation of this incitement to manslaughter is completed. I hope that Havering council and our MP consider this a matter for the swiftest attention.

1.9.05

Editor: Do any other readers share the same view? What improvements could be made? E.mail your views to 'Have Your Say'.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster RA:

HELP ASTHMA SUFFERERS

It was not until a friend of mine, ex RA councillor Valerie Evans, died following a very severe asthma attack at the age of just 60, that I realised that this disease is a killer. Asthma affects about 5 million people in the UK and the numbers, especially among children, is growing.

There is only one charity which deals with all aspects of asthma, with the ultimate aim of ridding all sufferers of this illness. If you could help them achieve this aim they need your support through contributions, if you can spare a donation why not contact them at www.asthma.org.uk or write to them at Asthma UK, Summit House, 70 Wilson Street, London EC2A 2DB.

31.8.05


Brian Hunt, Romford:

OBSTRUCTIVE PARKING - A SOLUTION?

Further to my earlier letter regarding obstructive parking (28.8.05), after doing some research I think I may have solved the problem.

If a car blocks or semi-blocks your driveway because the driver has chosen to interpret a small piece of horizontal kerb as being big enough to park a car you can:

1) Phone Havering Council on 01708 434343 and ask for Parking Enforcement
2) Give them the offending car's number, colour and make.
3) Wait several hours during which absolutely nothing will happen.
4) Repeat points 1-3 and wait for an attendant to show - this generally takes about five minutes.

Legally, the diagonal parts of the kerb (wings) are part of your access, not of their parking space. Only the raised horizontal part of the kerb is allowable parking space.

The use of spaces smaller than the parked car is actually illegal, even if it is your car parked almost in front of your house. You are only entitled to park on the road in front of your house from where the kerb starts its slope down.

Of course, consideration and good manners on the part of drivers would obviate all need for action!

31.8.05

Editor: I particularly agree with the last point - are there any other examples out there? Why not contact 'Have Your Say'.


 

Brian Hunt, Romford:

OBSTRUCTIVE PARKING OUTSIDE OWN HOME

Between my driveway and my neighbour's property there is a six foot piece of level pavement that is interpreted by drivers as a right to park twelve and fifteen foot cars. This means that cars partially block our access every working day from 08:00 - 17:00 hours.

On frequent occasions there is a car blocking more than a third of my driveway that is level with the road. For me to exit or re-enter I have to mount the kerb and inflict damage on my suspension.

Sometimes it is impossible for me to leave. I have contacted Havering Council in the past and they told me there is nothing they can do.

Any bright ideas?

28.8.05

Editor: If there is capacity to extend the driveway sideways to the perimeter of the frontage it may help the situation, however this may already have been done.

While I assume there are no parking restrictions, this seems largely down to inconsiderate parking by commuters. If cars block your entry into the road entirely this can become a police matter, but partial blocking making access to the highway difficult rather than impossible is another matter.

Has anyone else experienced similar problems? Have you any suggestions (within the law!) that may help the situation? E.mail your comments to 'Have Your Say'.


SC, Upminster:

UPMINSTER POLICE STATION

Further to the article in last Friday's edition of the Recorder and your website concerning the opening hours of Upminster Police Station, I would just like to register this household's view that definitely we would like longer opening hours in the evening - and if possible at the weekend.

16.8.05

Editor: Any more views are most welcome. Contact Have Your Say.


Mrs Powell, Havering:

RECYCLING JUNK MAIL

Further to the letter (30.7.05) regarding junk mail delivered to your door - my husband saves them up, puts them in an unstamped envelope and sends them back. Recycling of a sort!!!!

15.8.05

Editor: Any other novel ways of dealing with junk mail? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Mrs Keller, Havering:

HAROLD PARK FORGOTTEN

While other parks get new play equipment, what about Paynes Brook adventure park? There has been no swings or slides for some years - Harold Park always gets forgotten!

11.8.05


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

DRIVERS USING MOBILES WHILE DRIVING A DANGER

It is really aggravating to still see people using hand held mobile phones while driving. It is against the law, but there is no enforcement whatsoever.

Can we report drivers using hand held mobile phones while driving on the current anti-social behaviour numbers? Perhaps if enough people phoned (when it is safe to do so, obviously), and reported the number plate, time and location of the incident, a letter could be sent to the offender. And just like the current anti-social behaviour rules, a record of these offences could be kept and repeat offenders would be prosecuted.

If lives were saved and accidents prevented, wouldn't it be worth it? If the police leave catching speeders to cameras, why can't the public catch the mobile phone users with anti social behaviour measures?

Editor: Figures released from the Department of Transport show that during the first 10 months of the ban (1 December 2003 and 30 September 2004), 26,400 fixed penalty notices were issued by 27 of the 51 police forces in Great Britain. To give that figure some perspective, it would work out at around 3 fixed penalty notices a day per police force!

For those that are caught, the Road Safety Bill (2005) will permit the fine to increase from £30 to £60 and for 3 penalty points to be appended to a driving licence.

While the additional penalties are welcome, it would seem that the casual disregard for this law among many motorists rests simply on the principle that they are very unlikely to be caught.

In terms of the public playing a role by reporting such incidents, I have forwarded the idea to the met police and will report back on their response.

11.8.05


TB, Upminster:

A FAIR PENSION FOR ALL

As far as pensions are concerned (news item 2.8.05), I am in favour of what I would call the MP's scheme. These guys can draw up to £169,000 in expenses and allowances and then qualify for a copper-bottomed scheme that cost you and me an estimated £20m. Mr Blair is guaranteed a pension in the region of £100,000 per year and there is no problem funding this.

It puts my state pension of £124 per week somewhat in perspective wouldn't you say?

3.8.05

Editor: When you compare the pensions of the Prime Minister and MPs with those of corporate executive directors, they are in shallow end of the pool. Last year the bus manufacturing company, Mayflower, hit the rocks with a £20m hole in their accounts, the chief executive walked away with a £5m pension fund. A report by the TUC in 2004 revealed that the average directors pension was £169,000. It also showed that 80% of directors were on final salary schemes while only 40% of staff could expect the same benefit. Of course there is the distinction to draw between the public and private sector, but the public sector is increasingly using private sector type salaries and benefits to attract the 'best talent'. That certainly puts the state pension of £124 per week into perspective!


Tony Burns, Upminster:

SPEED CAMERAS NEED ENFORCEMENT

Further to the speed camera news item (2.8.05), the present system is far from perfect but the simple fact is if it was rigidly enforced it would stop speeding motorists which, from a safety point of view, is the whole purpose of the camera's existence. If people object, then take the logical step of either enforcing the law or remove the camera's.

3.8.05

Editor: Any other views out there? E.mail Have Your Say


Mr WH, Upminster:

ROADS STREWN WITH RUBBISH

I feel I must write to complain about the amount of litter along the main routes through Havering. Has anyone noticed the rubbish strewn along the central carriageway as you drive through Havering to Romford along the A127?

If you drive to other local areas, e.g. Basildon, Brentwood and Aveley they are clean and tidy and the roads are swept and maintained to a high standard - unlike Havering which has declined over the last few years.

Our verges are rarely cut and maintained along with the poor standards of the roads which are patched up here and there for a temporary fix.

We pay a high premium in council tax to live in this area and it is an eyesore. According to Havering's 'Living Magazine' which reports that money is being spent in these areas, where is it going? It's a pleasure to drive in some other boroughs but not here.

3.8.05

Editor: The rubbish along the central reservation of the A127 is particularly noticeable directly after the grass is cut. However, as this is a trunk road it comes under the authority of the Highways Agency rather than the council.

However, residents should expect a level of street cleanliness that is commensurate with the level of council tax we pay, and if you can highlight any examples where the cleanliness is not up to scratch, report it straight away to steetcare@havering.gov.uk or by telephone on 01708 432563.


A very concerned resident:

SAVING UPMINSTER COURT

I was appalled to hear of the proposed sale of upminster court. No doubt the reason is to do with saving money. Am I wrong to believe that we the residents never get to see the money that is saved?

Also the building must belong to us the rate paying public and I would like the council to have the decency to negotiate with us as to the future of one of our most pleasant buildings.

There are a number of other ugly buildings in the Havering area that can be sold to raise money and I would welcome other resident’s views on the sale of the most beautiful LISTED buildings in our area.

2.8.05

Editor: What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say


Paul, Havering:

I would like to stop people on foot from putting junk mail through my door. I have a sign on my post box saying 'no junk mail' but they still put it in. Much of the stuff is useless. I get mail offering double-glazing (got it) or for Chinese restaurants miles away. As for charities, I get about four of them a week! I don't mind useful information, like The Bulletin, because I ask for it.

If I went on holiday for a few weeks I would cancel my milk and daily newspaper, but the pile of junk mail sticking out of my box would alert any potential burglar that I'm away.

30.7.05

Editor: There are two aspects to this issue. Firstly, direct mailing (ie junk mail delivered by the post office) can be stopped by registering with the mail preference service. This free service can be activated by visiting www.mpsonline.org.uk or by telephoning 0845 703 4599.

The second aspect is junk mail that is delivered by people other than the post office. Short of putting up a sign saying 'no junk mail', which Paul has done, there are few other options. The leaflets are usually delivered by people who have nothing to do with the service being advertised; so contacting the company concerned may be fruitless. If you are going away for any length of period, the best thing to do is to ask a neighbour to check on your letterbox to make sure all mail is pushed through.

Are there any other tips out there? E.mail your comments to Have Your Say.


Tony Burns, Upminster:

RESPECT NEEDS ENFORCEMENT

I am concerned about the ‘respect ‘mantra that is being bandied about of late. I suspect that this is a substitute for enforcement of the law. Its part of the government’s crime fighting strategy which is strong on rhetoric and weak on action.

We have pretty little signs that light up to tell drivers they are speeding but no enforcement cameras. We are told that our police are out in force every weekend dealing with disorder in Romford Town Centre, yet a young
man is murdered under their noses.

We have local and national politicians who show no respect for their
voter’s wishes. In Rainham they force local people to put up with the consequences of extensive gravel extraction. Care homes are being closed, despite election pledges. What is the point of local democracy if it is neither local or democratic?

The police have shown, by the way they handled protesters at the G8 conference in Gleneagles, that they have the power under existing law to deal with disorder - what is often lacking is the will.

I suppose what I am saying is that rhetoric and words are no substitute for firm action. But they are a lot cheaper.

28.7.05

Editor: I think this is the ‘hearts and minds’ strategy. If you can get people on board with what you are trying to achieve then the whole process becomes easier.

Actions generally do speak louder than words, but is there room for effective public relations when coming to fighting crime? What do you think? E.mail your view to Have Your Say.


Angela Wyatt, Brentwood:

BLAME CULTURE NEEDS A RESPONSIBLE APPROACH

The rise of the blame culture and litigious society (August Editorial, The rise and rise of the blame culture) is an inevitable progression of the 'Americanisation' of British society. Britain's relationship with the US has been strengthened over the years continuing with Britain's alliance in event's recently, not least in the subject of Iraq.

However, I do feel that the ridiculous cases of over-reactions by councils up
and down the country just does not happen to that extent in the US. I have for
many years worked alongside US colleagues and it is easy to see the difference in attitudes between US society and what is happening the UK.

Society here largely lacks the 'can do' attitude of our US counterparts and
whereas in the US there is an effort to remedy the mentality which discourages personal responsibility, in the UK it is positively encouraged by an over reliance on the welfare state. 'It doesn't matter, I'll go on benefit. The State will pay'.

The solution, as pointed out by the editor, to rein this in lies with fixed fees
for Lawyers, prosecution of people making false claims and regulation of TV
adverts and street canvassers.

At present, legislation on this seems unlikely and the trend will continue to escalate until a government with improved policies is elected.

28.7.05

Editor: An interesting perspective with a US angle. Should we take more responsibility for our own welfare or should the state be relied upon? Are there any other ways of reining in the blame culture or are we stuck with it? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


 

Lois Amos, Havering:

EXTRACTING THE WATER

I read in the Romford Recorder that Brett Lafarge has applied to the Environment Agency for a licence to abstract water from the underground strata at the rate of 590,500 cubic metres per year from the site at Whalebone Lane North in Romford (Grid Reference TQ 4886 8938) with no published time limit for the licence.

I find this absurd. When you think that, in the short term, we are likely to be facing a hose ban, and then in the long term the whole country could be in desperate need of water for drinking and every day uses - this water is going to be extracted to wash gravel!

Surely this will deplete our natural supplies of groundwater over a vast area, rob trees/plants of water and may cause earth shrinkage and movements that could have far reaching effects?

It's about time that we halted this wholesale ravaging of our earths natural resources, especially locally. Look what is happening when the shingles and gravels are being removed (under licence) from our coastline and exported to Holland and other countries. Flooding, breaching of sea defences, where will it all end?

Other European Countries won't allow it to be done on their doorstep, so why are we the fools that are greedy and stupid enough to allow this kind of thing to go on?

The trouble is that the general public seems not to read/comment or be bothered with the small print and the Legal Notices, etc. Take heed - read!

26.7.05

Editor: Should we be more careful with our most valuable natural resource – water? Should gravel extractions be limited? What do you think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


A concerned resident, Ardleigh Green Road:

MOTOCROSS BIKES NEED A PLACE TOO!

Having just read the articles on your website regarding motorcycle nuisance, I feel I have to write and express my disgust.

Being a resident in the borough (Ardleigh Green Road) I am shocked at the approach to this ongoing and troublesome problem. Whilst I fully appreciate that this problem blights many residents, I cannot understand the double-standards being preached.

In your article (7/6/05), 'a nearby resident' said (and I quote) "Despite making numerous pleas to the police and the council, it seems that nobody can do anything to stop this activity. Surely we should not wait before a serious injury is sustained before the authorities do something to address the problem?". Are you serious????

It was not a few months ago that the Residents Association lobbied the planning committee, for the third time, to prevent a proper motocross facility in the area which would remove 99% of the problem!!! I am not suggesting that this facility would eliminate the problem, some kids will always rebel after all, but surely a licensed facility (including on site first aid facilities) is the answer that the 'nearby resident' has been 'pleading' to the council for!

Please can someone explain to me what the purpose of throwing out something to get the bikes off our parklands and onto land specifically designed with jumps and dips in mind - which has got to be more exciting than riding about on flat ground, surely? - and then complaining and demanding that the council do something about the problem. Exactly what is it that residents are trying to achieve here? It seems that the council are caught by a case of "damned if they do and damned if they don't".

21.7.05

Editor: The issue of motorcycles using our parks and open spaces as makeshift racetracks has been a problem for many years. In my own view, four things come to mind: 1) To those who live close to these areas the constant noise and disruption caused is a significant concern. 2) The safety of park users, and indeed the motorcyclists themselves, should not be compromised by this particularly hazardous practice. 3) The practice is illegal. 4) Clear guidance and information should be sought at the point of sale of the bikes regarding legal obligations and the locations of dedicated facilities.

Dealing with the problems posed by the illegal use of motorcycles in our parks and open spaces should not have to depend on finding a legitimate site elsewhere and need to be treated as separate matters. It would be great if a local motocross facility could be found to accommodate these enthusiasts, but the views of residents whose lives would be affected by such a proposed site must be taken into consideration.

Even if a site is found somewhere in the region, would 99% of the problem be removed? A legitimate site would mean travelling to and from the location, probably incur a fee and a duty to comply with health & safety requirements. Taking these and other factors into account, I am not persuaded that this would be the answer to the problem.

The main purpose of the Motorcycle Nuisance element of the Respect Campaign is to make residents aware of how they can help tackle the problem, particularly using section 59 of the 2002 Police Reform Act.

What do other readers think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say


Samantha Maguire, Elm Park:

PARKING TICKET THE LAST STRAW

Please assist as we are close to tears. I have recently broken my back and am having to be transported to the hospital and doctor regularly by my mother in the car. This morning my mother had parked directly outside of our house in Ennerdale avenue, Elm Park, and whilst waiting for me to be ready and take me to the car received a parking ticket!

We were parked outside our own house! The warden told my mother that he had already issued the ticket, so tough, and that he had been sent down to deal with the car. What on earth is going on in Elm Park that the local residents are the only people being treated like criminals for parking.

Is there someone we can write to or talk to, we are at our wits end with this and the state of the care at the doctor's (which we have recently changed) and the hospital. We wish we could leave the country as there never seems to be anyone to complain to.

19.7.05

Editor: Although I am unaware of the parking restrictions outside your house, it is a matter of some concern that parking tickets can be given out so unsympathetically.

The recommended course of action here would be to contact the parking enforcement section at the Council at Parking Appeals or on 01708 432787 and explain the situation. Perhaps the outcome could be shared on this website?

You are quite welcome to complain via this forum and we shall try to help where possible.

Are there any other examples of parking tickets being issued in extreme circumstances? E.mail Have Your Say.


Mr Ian Wilkes, Romford:

LIVING (OR IS IT LITTERING?) IN HAVERING

I was wryly amused to observe from my bedroom window recently a van draw up and decant a gentleman who proceeded to extract a couple of bundles of our Council magazine from its back. The van drove off and the chap unwrapped the bundles, leaving the plastic covering on the pavement.

He then got on with the job of delivering the Living in Havering, which featured in that issue as article on unnecessary litter. I crossed the road to clear up his mess myself, but wrote to the Council complaining. You will be surprised to learn that I have received no reply!

16.7.05

Editor: We are happy to publicise any examples of deliberate littering on the website. Simply send your message to Have Your Say.


Brian Williams, Havering:

HOLIDAYS IN BRITAIN NO BARGAIN!

Regarding holiday prices during school shutdown and a previous suggestion -
"What's wrong with ..... *gasp* to holiday in Britain (Letters, July 5)?"

Has the person tried to book a holiday in Britain? I was shocked to be quoted
£1,045 for ONE WEEK in a caravan in Cornwall for the first week of August. For an extra £17 I got four flights, airport parking, car hire and a two-bedroom villa for the same week in Spain - all booked independently over the internet!

I can see a swift demise of the greedy holiday companies once people wise up to them - and then watch the prices come down, just as the ferry operators have been forced to reduce their prices to compete with internet booked budget flights.

Consumer power will win in the end.

11.7.05

Editor: Whilst the price of a holiday in Britain or Spain is certainly cranked up during the school summer break, the advent of the internet certainly offers a greater degree of choice. For those who walk into a travel agents and book a holiday without exploring the costing alternatives, they are probably throwing away hundreds of pounds for the sake of expediency -and the tour operators know this!

Are there any other examples out there? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Tony Burns, Upminster:

ID CARDS POLL NEEDS COSTINGS

Further to the ID cards poll result (news, 2.7.05), perhaps with the benefit of hindsight the inclusion of some suggested costings in the straw poll might have seen a very different outcome.

6.7.05

Editor: The issue of accurate costings for the scheme has been as controversial as the scheme itself. Implementation costs have varied from £3 billion to £19 billion and the cost to the individual anything from zero to £300. The poll itself was concerned with the principle of introducing compulsory ID cards, but if accurate costings were available I agree that the 68% ‘yes’ figure may have been different.


Gerry Cassidy, Havering:

RA FORUM A WELCOME OPPORTUNITY

At last an opportunity to discuss issues concerning Havering! I have tried in vain over the last 2 years to encourage Havering Council to adopt a Forum section on their web site to encourage debate among it's population, other councils do this but no joy from Havering.

Keep up the good work.

7.7.05


Cranham Resident:

FRANKS WOOD CAR DUMP

I am writing to voice my concerns about the area of Cranham Brickfields known as "Franks Woods".

Having grown up in Cranham I spent much of my youth over the Brickfields and especially making camps and playing games in the woods.

I was however shocked this weekend when I rode my cycle through the woods and saw four burnt out cars and three motorcycles there. I know provisions for access must be made to these woods but the construction of a bridge that is both wide enough and strong enough for a car to travel over is surely a mistake.

Would it not be a good idea to remove this bridge and replace it with a narrow
one with a handrail as is seen around other local green sites ?

5.7.05

Editor: The problem of dumped and burnt out vehicles in Franks Wood is an ongoing concern. We shall look into the issue of access and report back.


Upminster Resident:

……..AND DON'T FORGET THE TEACHERS!

Mrs CT raises some interesting points about the pricing of summer holidays (letter, July 3), but it is not only families with children who are forced to take their holidays during the expensive summer period.

This also applies to teachers. They can't play skip school to get a cheap deal! In fact, they have to queue at airports full of noisy and excited kids, the very people they need to have a break from!

Most teachers would give their eyeteeth for a cheap deal to a child free destination, so spare a thought for them too!

5.7.05

Editor: The various campaigns dealing with this issue usually forget to mention teachers or those employed in the school system. Are there any teachers out there who would like to share their thoughts on this? E.mail your views to Have Your Say


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

SUMMER HOLIDAYS SUBJECT TO SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Further to the letter regarding school holidays (Mrs CT, 3 July), I don't think there is any reason for the travel industry to lower rates during peak times. Why should they? It's a free market! Surely prices are reflective of supply and demand. If demand is high, travel operators have every right to charge higher prices.

I think we should remember that we don't have a right to luxurious, cheap holidays abroad during school holiday periods. What's wrong with choosing a cheaper holiday, or even *gasp* to holiday in Britain?

The travel industry has a right to make money, and any attempt to regulate it when it is perfectly self regulating according to the rules of the free market
would be one step closer to communism.

Just consider the alternative - the government steps in and says that travel companies can only charge a specific price for a holiday, and those price controls dictate the amount of profit one can make. And price controls aren't
good for any free market.

5.7.05

Editor: Any more views out there? e.mail your viHave Your Say.
ews to


From Mrs CT, Hornchurch:

SUMMER HOLIDAY RIP OFF?

With the school summer holidays almost upon us, families face the annual
rip off as brochure prices rise as much as 98 per cent to exploit a captive
market.

In an effort to tackle truancy and unwarranted absences from school, parents
who take their children out of school in term time can face fines of between
£50 and £200.

However, for many families the only way to afford a holiday is to take it
during term time and the associated saving can easily offset any fine.

While schools, parents and the authorities try to tackle the problem of truancy,
so should the travel operators take some responsibility.

The government have recently spent £1 billion on truancy prevention programmes
only to see absence rates remain unchanged. Perhaps a more productive approach would be to compel the travel industry to adopt family friendly schemes that offer genuine discounts based on loyalty and advance bookings.

3.7.05

Editor: Are the travel companies holding families to ransom? Should parents be fined for taking their children out of school for holidays? What do you think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

DISABLED ACCESS NOT SO GOOD!

Further to the news item regarding disabled access to stations, I find it odd that Ken Livingstone would say that the access at Upminster is "good." The lift is not one that the general public can operate, and so needs someone at the station to come operate it.

A friend of mine with twins and a three year old has had to wait up to 15 minutes just so she can use the lift.

I can't imagine that those of limited mobility who use wheelchairs would find the Upminster access to be good!

1.7.05

Editor:

Are the disabled facilities at Upminster station good as Ken Livingstone states? Are you a user? E.mail your views to Have Your Say?


J. Williams, Upminster:

RATS AND MOBILE PHONES!

An article in the Romford Recorder last week (3.6.05) caught my eye and has given me cause for concern.

It is stated that the council will no longer send pest controllers to private residences free of charge and that residents will have to pay for pest controllers themselves by contacting contractors direct. I recently had a plague of rats in my garden, which seemed to emanate either from a compost heap in a garden backing onto me, or from a private service road at the rear of some shops adjacent to my house. The council were prompt in sending out a contractor, free, to look at the problem and safely put down some poison. They also came back about a week later and checked on progress, leaving more poison.

What do we pay our rates for if we cannot rely on the council to fund pest control? They say they will only send out pest control staff if the problem is on public land, eg roads/streets. Do our gardens have to be overrun so much that they then go to the streets and roads of Havering before the council will take action? What about elderly people who can't afford to call in private contractors? I don't know how much they cost but you can bet they are almost as much as a weekly pension... a minimum call out of £40 must surely apply. What if people go to B&Q or wherever else they might be able to buy rat poison from and wrongly use it?

All this with an article only a few pages away about Councillor Tebbut (Alby) and his ludicrous mobile phone bill - in excess of £6,000 - which he apparently agreed to fund to the tune of £3,000. What about the remaining £3,000? Do us fools that pay council tax and don't get pest control provided free have to pay for this? I bet if he had rats in his garden in Gidea Park the council would make sure he had pest control!

15.6.05

Editor: The following advice regarding rats is extracted from the Council's website: 'The law requires land owners or occupiers to be responsible for keeping the land free of rats. This includes the need to prevent situations occurring which may encourage rats to live there e.g. allowing rubbish which may provide harbourage to accumulate.

Environmental Health Service will investigate if rats are seen. They currently provide a pest control service only for rats inside private domestic premises. Other Council Departments are responsible for rats on land they own.

Commercial premises will need to have their known Pest Control Contractor (Pest Control in the Yellow Pages or Thompson Local).'

As far as the mobile phone bill story is concerned, perhaps the most sensible solution would be for mobile phones supplied by the Council to be used for council business and if someone wants a unit for personal use, then buy or rent one from a retailer.

What do you think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

CELEBRATE AT A COST!

What I really want to know about the various celebrations around the Borough is
HOW MUCH THEY COST? Because as I see it, someone is spending 'my' money!

12.6.05

Editor: The 40th Anniversary of Havering has inspired a number of events to celebrate the occassion. Are they worth it? Should they be more cultural? Should we have more? e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster RA:

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS MISS THE POINT

This year marks not only the 40th anniversary of Havering Council, but also the 540th anniversary of the awarding by King Edward IV of the Liberty of Havering.

Not wishing either of these events to be ignored, the then lead member of Culture arranged for a number of activities to be set up for the people of Havering. You would expect, and I do not doubt it was his idea, events such as heritage walks around Havering-atte-bower, historic talks and other such cultural activities. A group was set up to discuss this, but then the lead member resigned and was ultimately replaced by one who is fast earning a nickname Cllr Who?

Two meetings apparently took place, neither of which were minuted, and the outcome was a sporting event in Hornchurch linked to an Olympic theme and a band copying the Beatles (a Liverpool based group who, to my knowledge, never came to Havering). In Romford a very well attended free dinner and dance was arranged, but for dignitaries only, and in Upminster a Party in the Park. Of course, outdoor events are at the mercy of the weather, and for ours it was not kind. But for the council to hail the event a success when only 1,000 people attended (compared with the 8,000 who came for the Upminster fun day in 2004) is wrong.

Events later in the year will include VE day celebrations, a firework display, carol concerts, etc. Please do not get me wrong, I am not knocking any of this, but I would like to know what any of this has to do with the Liberty of Havering or 40 years as Havering Council?

10.6.05

Editor: The 40th (or 540th) anniversary is a marvellous opportunity to highlight the rich history and cultural aspects of our area. The tendency to celebrate events of any historical or cultural significance with music concerts and fun fairs tend to push to the actual reason for the festivity to the background.

Even on a broader scale, such as Christmas and Easter, for many the reason behind the festival is only of marginal interest.

Quite recently the labour MP for Watford, Claire Ward, proposed a Bank Holiday for the third Monday of October to celebrate those who work in the public and voluntary sector. Should this ever happen how many people will pause to reflect on the value of public service?

What do you think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Upminster resident:

A BIG THANKYOU TO HAVERING SOCIAL SERVICES

I would like to publicly acknowledge the fantastic, efficient and speedy service I have recently received from Havering Social Services in helping me sort out certain aspects of homecare for an elderly relative.

I cannot praise them highly enough. Also the ladies from Age Concern, who have been so very kind and helpful.

A big 'thank you' to one and all.

6.6.05

Editor: While shortcomings in public services are given local and national prominence, it is good to feature letters of thanks.


AB, Upminster:

PHONE A FRIEND?

It is reported in the Romford Recorder (3.6.05) that Councillor Tebbut, along with a few others, have a brought a whole new meaning to the phrase 'phone a friend'. Not content with their more than generous salaries, they now seek further allowances from hard-pressed taxpayers.

Maybe they should go 50-50 or ask the audience?

5.5.06


Cllr Linda Hawthorn (RA Upminster):

A POTENTIAL SLIP UP

As expected, my recent article about the felling of 15 year old fruit trees which, according to the Lead Member for StreetCare have suddenly become inappropriate, produced quite a bumper crop of letters, almost all in agreement that the idea is not a good one!

It seems that several residents have not been informed regarding the felling of trees before they actually are, and, as many quite rightly point out, the reason the fruit fall is so large is because the trees themselves have been allowed to become large. This in turn produces more fruit fall in the autumn therefore the slippery mess posing a possible hazard.

So I asked that precise question: ‘How many insurance claims have been made?’ After a little time the answer I received, which quite frankly amazed me, was NONE – but there is the potential for claims!

I am calling on Havering Council to stop this ill thought out programme and spend the £150,000 (of your money) earmarked for this scheme on the maintenance of trees instead.

The Council Leader, in his speech at full Council, praised StreetCare and said it is now noticeably better – it would be if you remove all trees, grass verges, etc, but is this what we really want our streets to look like?

2.6.05

Editor: There are many roads, gardens and avenues in Havering which are a splendid sight when the street trees are in full bloom, but should the fruit fall tree programme be terminated? Instead of fending off possible claims are we creating a climate of litigation? What do you think? E.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Mr Burns, Upminster:

LESSONS FROM 'ROBOCOP'?

Just recently there was a report in the Times Newspaper that Mr Ray Mallon (aka "Robocop"), who is now the Mayor of Middlesborough, was awarded a £6,000 a year increase in his mayoral salary by the same kind of impartial quango that awards other councillors large increases.

He decided he didn't need it so he handed it to Age Concern to arrange for the money to fund outings for OAPs in the area.

For those of you on the internet, I suggest you tap his name into Google and access his website. The man's views are a fund of commonsense.

1.6.05

Editor: Roy Mallon is known as no-nonsense Mayor whose approach has been described as 'unusual'. What do others think? E.mail your views to 'Have Your Say'.


From: Roger Evans, London Assembly Member for Havering & Redbridge

GLA MEMBER TO RAISE STATION LIFTS ISSUE

Christine Morton makes a good point. The task of ensuring access for all users to the underground is huge and potentially very costly. That is why only a few stations are modified every year.

However the cost of improving above ground stations is much less than that of the deep level stations in central London. Hornchurch also has quite a large elderly population, including people who would benefit from lifts and ramps even though they do not all use wheelchairs. The benefit in return for the cost therefore appears comparatively favourable.

I will raise this issue at question time with Ken Livingstone in June and let you know what his response is.

27.5.05

Editor: Many thanks for that. We shall await the views of Ken Livingstone with interest.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

STATION LIFTS NEEDED

Why are there no plans for TfL to install lifts for disabled and limited mobility users at both Hornchurch and Upminster Bridge tube stations? I called TfL and they said that the nearest stations with lifts were Elm Park or Upminster. Disabled travellers would have to take a bus to get to either of those stations.

The same goes for One Railway's Gidea Park station, where disabled travellers have to get a bus to get to Romford where there is step-free access.

Are those of limited mobility not entitled to an easier journey than having to make several connections? Surely as all three stations are overland, it would be easier to install a lift service than for the old central London stations that are underground. It seems a disgrace that we as a society do not accommodate these travellers better.

27.5.05

Editor: The Disability Discrimination Act (2005) addresses the issue of transport accessibility. Previously, certain transport services were not covered under the Act which meant that disabled people could be discriminated against.

The aim of this particular component of the Act is aimed more at the means of transportation rather than the stations from which they operate (legislation covering transport infrastructure, such as railway stations, is covered by the 1995 Act).

However, the new Act means that most transport operators must make reasonable adjustments to policies, practices and procedures that discriminate against disabled people and also provide auxiliary aids and services, like accessible information, where they enable or facilitate disabled people’s access.

Should this be extended to providing lifts at every station? What do you think? Post your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

HOODIE BAN IN ROMFORD

I am very angry that Romford would take such a decision. The public perception of crime is certainly great, no matter what picture the 'Living' magazine attempts to paint.

Fortunately, we do have Bluewater a hop and a skip away, and if we do want to shop in a place where they take security seriously, we can. Just where did that 20% increase in Bluewater shoppers come from, anyway? I wouldn't be surprised if it was former Romford shoppers, would you? The only difficulty in getting there would be for public transport users from our area as the 372 route was cut to cover only Hornchurch to Lakeside (instead of Hornchurch-Lakeside-Bluewater).

There are buses that run from Lakeside to Bluewater, so only one transfer is
necessary. On the other hand, perhaps Lakeside will see the light and be smart enough to install the same policy as it's cousin across the river!

23.5.05

Editor: The Hoodie ban has inspired much media comment across the country. Is it sending the right message? Numbers are up at Bluewater, does this say something or is it just a result of good publicity? Should Romford do the same? Post your views to Have Your Say.


MC, Hornchurch:

SHOPPING TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT

I went shopping in Romford on Friday to pick up a couple of things. Usually I take the bus, because my perception of driving in this country is that it is so
inconvenient with the congestion, is bad for the environment, etc. That day I drove.

I have just realised that our area actually encourages people to drive to Romford instead of taking the bus! The one-way bus fare is £1.20, or with a saver ticket it's £1. With an Oyster pre-pay card it's 80p. Great bargain, right?

No. The cost of parking in the Brewery car park is £1 for two hours, and then £1.50 for another hour. So it's actually cheaper for a shopping trip to Romford for less than 3 hours to use your own car (£1 or £1.50) than to buy an Oyster pre-pay card and take the bus (£1.60 at the cheapest).

One might argue that it's TfL who sets the bus rates and The Brewery who set the car park rates, but shouldn't they both work together to reduce congestion
and the impact on the environment?! For those who shop there weekly, it all adds up!

23.5.05

Editor: TfL are very committed to getting people out of the car and on to public transport. But did the recent increase in bus fares from £1 to £1.20 encourage this? As MC points out, it works out cheaper to drive than to take the bus, so the financial incentive is lost. Perhaps there should be more of a 'joined up' approach - what do you think? Post your views to Have Your Say.


Tony Burns, Upminster,

GOVERNMENT BY OCRACY

The General Election results made it pretty clear we are not governed by democracy. It would seem we are governed by a mixture of autocracy and hypocrisy.

When Mr Blair saw the results of the election he said he would listen and learn, well if he listened he didn't learn. In the cabinet reshuffle five ex- ministers were allowed to keep their grace and favour residences. David Blunkett, as works and pension minister, is now seeking to curb long term sick pay on the grounds of cost while living in a grace and favour residence that cost the hard pressed taxpayer £400,000 a year. I leave the readers to decide which ocracy this is.

Looking at the election results for Upminster there are two points that worry me Ron Owers vote appears to have gone to the Tory candidate and the BNP share of the ballot is getting larger.

20.5.05

Editor: Should there be grace and favour residency allowances for ex-ministers? Is the BNP growing in popularity? What message does this send? What do you think? Post your views to Have Your Say.


Mrs DB, Upminster:

COUNCIL TAX - WHY 1st OF THE MONTH?

I was looking through the letters and was particularly interested in the letter from Mr P of Rainham (2.12.04) regarding the payment date for Council Tax.

As a pensioner I have to be careful how I spend my money and as I receive my pension on the 15th of each month, it is difficult to pay my council tax on the 1st.
I have never missed a payment, but have not always been able to meet the 1st of the month deadline. Nonetheless, I recently received an alarming letter from the
Council threatening legal action if I do not comply with the due date.

Why is it that for other services I can pay in arrears or can specify when a direct debit should be taken from my account, but the Council can insist that I pay in advance?

19.5.05

Editor: Payment date used to be the 15th of the month but was changed, by the former Labour administration, to the 1st in order to improve cash flow and subsequent interest accrual. Is this fair? What do you think? E.mail your views to 'Have Your Say'.


Adam, Hornchurch:

ELECTORAL REFORM NEEDED

Your Guest Columnist, David Garfield, is absolutely right - the first past the post system of parliamentary representation needs changing.

Can it be right that Labour, with 35.2% of the vote is rewarded with 356 seats while the Tories, with 32.3% of the vote, only have 197 seats? The Lib Dems have long suffered under this system, they attracted 22% of the popular vote but ended up with 62 seats.

These figures just go to show that winning and losing elections is based upon a relatively few marginal seats rather than the voting expression of the whole country.

Some kind of Proportional Representation system is the way forward.

7.5.05

Editor: There are many who would support the call for PR to be introduced. Although I doubt whether either of the main two parties would support it!

Critics may argue that it would lead to a fragmented form of government which would a spend vast amount of time negotiating policy leading to indecision and weak leadership. However, it seems to work elsewhere in the world.

What do others think? Post your views to Have Your Say.


Doug Whittaker, Upminster:

PAVEMENT BREAKS

It is interesting to note that many paving slabs appear to have been broken by vehicles in Humber Drive outside the entrance to Engayne school. The only vehicles I have seen parked on the pavement have been the coaches ready for, I suppose, a school trip.

These actions result in unsightly pavements which are, no doubt, expensive to replace. In addition, it would be difficult to trace the culprits.

This is the second time that this type of damage has occurred; previously I believe it was due to the actions of a work force earlier this year.

I intend to advise Streetcare.

3.5.05

Editor: Reports of defective pavements can be reported to StreetCare on 01708 432563. In addition, you can now report any incidents on-line by visiting the Council website (www.havering.gov.uk) and then clicking on the StreetCare link.


VB, Cranham:

FINANCIAL HELP WITH ELDERLY CARE

In his May Editorial, Clarence Barrett has highlighted a very important issue
that should be of concern to us all, namely the cost of care for the elderly.

The situation as it stands is a disgrace and I concur wholeheartedly with the
points made. However, many people are unaware that pecuniary help is available in the form of benefits, payable to the elderly who are living in their own homes and/or their carers.

The Attendance Allowance, for example, is not means tested and can assist with the cost of "buying in" help.

For information about the different benefits available, look on the website for
the Department of Work and Pensions on www.dwp.gov.uk .

I would urge anyone caring for an elderly person to check out this website, as
there may be financial help available for you.

2.5.05

Editor: Thanks for that. Some good advice from VB.


Gwynne Barnes, Upminster:

IVY THE TREE KILLER

On driving around the lanes of not only Havering but most other parts of England, it seems such a shame to see a lot of trees being strangulated by ivy. Perhaps through your magazine you could make people aware of this?
Perhaps there could be working parties set up to organize the cutting of the ivies? I know funds are short but to save our rural heritage if would be beneficial for all if some of the council taxes could be used on some tree husbandry.

29.4.05

Editor: I have passed your message on to one of our RA councillors who can raise the issue. Is ivy a threat to our trees? What do others think? e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Dave Topping, Harold Wood:

MAYLANDS – A COMMUNITY VISION

It was good to see Ron Ower and other local politicians attend the presentation launch of the Maylands Fields Document (A Community Vision) on 23rd April.

I don’t recall seeing any of our already elected Tory councillors or M.P. being present (shows how much they care for their residents environment)!

Cant wait for 5th May!

25.4.05

Editor: The document produced by the Maylands Action Group sets out an impressive and inspirational vision of future use. Among its aims is to be recognised as a Local Nature Reserve, to be included as part of the Thames Chase Community Forest and to form a strategic gateway into the Ingrebourne Valley. To find out more details please e.mail – .maylands2003@yahoo.com .


Colin, Upminster:

CUT TING DOWN ON FLORID SUMMARIES

I am sorry but I cannot contain my patience any longer having read a selection of the letters from correspondents. The editor is continually summarising letters with extremely flowery language a lot of which is superfluous.

I will quote an example on the letter "The Slippery Slope". Surely it doesn't require rocket science to understand that the potential danger from uneven flagstones is inherent all year round whilst falling due to wet leaves must be more hazardous in the spring and autumn. So what do you do? You prioritise and deal with the uneven flagstones before you worry about wet leaves. Why do you do this? Simply because there is a greater chance of an accident from uneven flagstones than there is from wet leaves.q.e.d.

19.4.05

Editor: I totally agree with the central theme of your letter regarding uneven flagstones and prioritising hazards. However, when it comes to flowery language – I shall have to contain my enthusiasm for florid comments! What do others think? Post your views to Have Your Say.


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

TELEPHONE BOXES IN DECLINE

In response to the news item (Who needs Telephone Boxes? April15) I would have to say I am against phone booths. In today's society, they are superfluous and a constant attraction for vandalism.

Not so long ago my husband and I were coming back from a show in town and were waiting for a bus back from Romford. It was about 10:30pm, and there were kids (15 or 16 years old!) snorting coke in the phone booth near the bus stop. Apparently, when in public, a phone booth has a great level surface for doing such awful things.

In addition, with the constant vandalism they cost too much to maintain.

16.4.05

Editor: As mobile phones have become widespread the demand for public phone boxes would appear to be greatly reduced. But should there be a minimum number to serve the community or simply be left to the principle of supply and demand? What do you think? Post your views to 'Have Your Say'


Upminster Resident:

THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF LIABILITY

Regarding the removal of fruit trees from streets in the borough (news item 1.3.05, letters 5.3.05 and 9.4.05), can someone tell us just how many people have been injured, in recent years, as a result of slipping on the fallen fruit?

Don't fallen leaves also become slippery when wet? Why don't the council go the
whole hog and cut down all the trees? And while they're at it, I think they
should sort out all the broken and uneven paving stones, which present a far
greater danger of tripping over than a bit of old fruit!

A couple of years ago, an elderly man of my acquaintance fell over an uneven
pavement in Upminster, which had been lifted up by the roots of a large tree.
He was quite badly injured and needed hospital treatment, but despite contacting
them, the council didn't do anything about it.

10.4.05

Editor: The issue of liability and any subsequent compensation that may be awarded has clearly focused the minds of those in the Council. But where do we draw a line? As the correspondent points out, leaves can be slippery when wet and the numer of uneven pavements must surely present a perceived danger. Somewhere along the line common sense must prevail or we may well face the prospect of astrologers being sued for getting it wrong!!


Coleen Newson, Hornchurch:

SLIPPING UP ON FRUIT FALL TREES

Well if this is not PC gone mad then I don't know what is!

Like Cllr Hawthorn, I too moved from the east end to live in a greener area. Unfortunately since I moved to Upminster, 16 years ago, there's been more building and concreting of drives that it's just like being back in the east end.

I personally think the fruit trees should stay. They are so pretty and make a street so attractive. I'm not sure what type of "highway" tree the council will replace them with as the tree recently outside my house (sorry I don't know what type of tree it is) is full of large Red berries in the winter which obviously fall and are then walked on making a carpet of nasty brown slush, which is very slippery and cannot be avoided by anyone walking under the tree. Myself, the postman and anyone else going to my house then walks the brown slush over my drive to the front door.

So give me fruit trees any day!

9.4.05

Editor: I'm not sure the name of the tree with the large red berries, but I know what you mean. I suspect that this may well come under the generic description of 'fruit fall trees' - if anyone out there knows perhaps they can let us know!


MB, Upminster:

INHERITANCE TAX 'ABHORRENT'

We all know that the imminent re-valuing of our homes is just another ploy by the authorities to double our council tax in 2007.

The property I bought in 1978 for £29,000 is now, due to circumstances totally beyond my control, worth approximately £400000. This does not make me wealthy, far from it; it is completely meaningless as its all relative.

What I would like to know is, if this government is entitled to double my council tax in one foul stroke, should it not, at the same time, double the threshold figure of £275,000 on the most abhorrent tax ever devised by man, namely INHERITANCE TAX?

To be robbed by Mr Brown while I'm alive is one thing, but the thought of him rummaging through my coffin with his grubby little hands leaves me cold.
Brown and Blair - more like Burke and Hare!

8.4.05

Editor: Whilst the Chancellor increased the threshold for inheritance tax, from £263,000 to £275,000, the concession does not go far enough.

It is basically an iniquitous levy, which is based on the unjust principle
that you are taxed on what has already been earned and taxed in your lifetime.

If inheritance tax were increased with inflation over the last 10 years,
the threshold would be now being in the region of £390,000. Because it has not,
it has drawn more and more properties into the net. A recent survey undertaken
by a leading mortgage lender* indicated that there are now around 2.5 million
houses with a value in excess of the threshold.

While I would prefer the approach adopted by countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where they have no inheritance duty at all, the least the government can do is to make peoples main residence exempt from the tax.


From: Rob Godfrey, Marketing Officer, Romford F.C. :

ROMFORD FC - THE FUTURE VISION

Romford Football Club is reaching a critical stage in its development since the club was reformed in 1992. The last twelve years have been a roller coaster ride with good times and bad. The clubs future has constantly been threatened by the lack of a long-term facility, where it can impose itself, expand, embrace the local community, and achieve sustainability.

The club and it’s members realise that if a long term facility is not forthcoming in the near future, the clubs existence at senior football level may be in doubt and in turn it’s ability to deliver a worthwhile service to the local community.

However it is not on a negative line, but on a positive one that this article is being written. Without being in a position to disclose detail, it is reasonable to say that negotiations between the club and Havering Council have reached a stage far in advance on anything previously achieved in respect of a permanent home for Romford Football Club. It is hoped that within the next few months the club will be able to disclose positive news in respect of it’s future. Whilst the club is to some extent reliant on the council for support, it also recognises that it must work hard itself to make the dream a reality and gain the trust of the local community.

During the deliberations with the Council, the club has constantly emphasised the community aspect of its bid. The facilities that it plans will not be specifically for the club use, or indeed specifically for football use. The club recognises the lack of recreational and social facilities in Havering and aim to provide an affordable facility that can be used for anything from junior football tournaments to a venue for pensioners clubs. The premises will be open to both sexes, all ages, all cultures, and both able and disabled. Diversity is key in Romford Football Club’s attempt to provide Havering with a new community outlet.

With any planning application, there will always be hurdles to overcome, which sometimes include opposition from those who may fear the project possibly because they don't fully understand what it is really about and what benefits it is going to give the local community. Romford F.C. are not owned by any private organisation, but a company limited by guarantee that is run by its members. These members basically are just supporters of the club and members of the community.

Romford Football Club want to run a successful and well supported team, but more importantly they want to run a club that is owned by the local community for the benefit of the local community that offers diverse facilities of which football is only one of the themes. To do this however, it must have a sustainable base from which it can operate. If you believe Romford Football acquiring a home of it's own can be of benefit to you and the wider community, would you please spare a little time to write a letter to the club, explaining what the proposed new facility can do for you. Please send your letters to the following address:

Romford Football Club
c/o 1 Willow Close
Hockley
Essex
SS5 5DH

Finally we have appointed Jon Gildersleeve as our Youth Development and Community Officer to hopefully bring the youngsters back to watch their local team.

He has now set up the Vince Nicholl goalkeeping soccer school, it is available for everyone over the age of 10, for more details please log on to www.romfordfc.com and click on Vince Nicholl picture found on the home page.

Jon is offering all children under the age of 16 a free season ticket for home league games, which are played at the Fords Stadium Ground, Rush Green Road, Romford.

He is also offering all local schools, youth clubs, voluntary groups and football clubs to have a chance to have a pre match warm up with the coaches of Romford, meet the manager and players, each will receive a signed team photo of the current Romford 1st Team and have a signed ball or signed football shirt for your team, which you may raffle or auction off making you extra funds.

To take advantage of the free season ticket offer please contact Jon directly by email zodyatromford@aol.com stating how many copies of the application forms and your organisation and address in order for them to be dropped off.

Tel: 01702 204192
Email: letters@romfordfc.co.uk
Website: www.romfordfc.co.uk

6.4.05

Editor: The club have certainly had their challenges over the last 12 years and it is good to see significant progress being made. I would encourage anyone to write in with any ideas or views regarding what a community based club can do for you.


Tony Burns, Upminster:

MEMBER ALLOWANCES UPDATED

I read with interest the latest schedule of councillor allowances as published in the Romford Recorder (1.4.05) which was agreed at full Council on March 23rd.

I believe the total sum in Councillors allowances is now around a million pounds - not bad for a Council who cannot afford to enforce its bylaws. This large sum is lifted from the Council taxpayer, rather like a stage magician, and we will not feel the pain till the Council tax bills start arriving!

This government started the system of allowances in 1997, by not only increasing all their own perks but by giving themselves a bomb proof pension - they then looted everybody else's pension to the tune of five million pounds.

When deciding the level of allowances, there should be an open discussion by the people of Havering who will have to pick up the bill.

The leader of the principal opposition has made the point that Councillors duties are far more onerous with all the new government rules. This will depend on how diligently the respective Councillors do their job.

I would stress that these comments are not aimed specifically at the RA, but to all Councillors.

4.4.05

Editor – As with any argument, there is always more than one side. The alternative to paying allowances is to return to a system where all services are provided on an entirely voluntary basis. While there are plenty in the community who do just that, I’m not convinced that the best interests of the community would be served by scrapping or scaling down the (now) established system of providing allowances to elected representatives.



David James, Upminster:

COUNCIL TAX BAND REVIEW NOT NEEDED!

In the April Bulletin, I read the article about council tax bills to rise further with some interest. While I wholeheartedly agree with the editors opinions, it seems to me that the way in which the bands are to be revised is unjustified.

Council Tax already rises on average above the rate of inflation, so how can the band reassessment be justified? Why should we have to pay a surcharge on what is already a real burden for many householders?
Surely this is just another stealth tax?

There can be no other reason for hitting us with what is effectively a double-edged sword. The bands are as meaningless as the Rateable Value used to be in those far off days of Rates. What's more, whose money will be wasted in producing the reassessment?

I would like to say that The Bulletin is an effective and informative publication - so much more worthwhile than the propaganda produced by Havering Council and 'The Londoner'.

1.4.05

Editor: The process of reviewing values in respect of Council Tax Bands starts today (1st April - honest, no coincidence!), with the outcome scheduled to become effective from 1st April 2007. The government have said that it is an excercise in updating valuations which has not been done since 1991. As a result, many commentators predict an extra band will be added to the bottom and two to the top. It is estimated that propereties with a value in excess of £179,000 are likely to go up the banding ladder. For homes that do go up a band, or even two, the government have promised transitional relief. For us, this can only mean that more homes will be pushed up the banding ladder thereby increasing the council tax even further! If this exercise is just about updating valuations, then we shall watch with considerable interest how it impacts upon households.


Resident, Upminster:

CRIME IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

I thought it necessary to contact the New Havering Website regarding the increase of local crime especially in the Springfield Gardens/Upminster location. In the past 12 - 18 months there seems to be a crime of some definition occurring every week, I would like to know if this is the same in other parts of Upminster, or are we just easy targets with the lack of police presence in our local streets?

There have been numerous incidents involving cars being broken into on residents drives, wheels being stolen, vandalism to vehicles and vehicle theft. Burglaries seem to be a regular occurrence day and night, teenagers are being assaulted and robbed of their possessions especially mobile phone theft, why is it that these issues are never raised?

Can we start recording via the local community, instances of crime whereby the local residents can email/send their reported crime details to this website and then we may see some action to address this issue?

Lets start hearing about 'LOCAL CRIME INCIDENTS' in our community and how it is being dealt with by the appropriate authorities!

1.4.05

Editor: Police resources are distributed using a formula which is driven by recorded levels of crime in an area. While reports of crime to this website would certainly highlight the issue, we cannot issue the all important crime reference number which forms the basis of police crime records. I would urge residents to report crime to the police and get a crime number for reference. The more that is reported the greater the chances of more police resources being allocated to Havering.


MB, Upminster:

THE COST OF BACKING THE BID?

The April edition of The Bulletin carries an interesting article by Clarence Barrett about Backing the Bid for the London Olympics. Comments were invited and I am happy to provide mine!

If, and when, Ken Livingstone has the manners and decency to ASK me if I would care to pay yet another £20 per year, for goodness knows how long, on my already exorbitant Council Tax, to boost his ego trip by staging the Olympics in 2012 I will consider it - and then tell him to go and boil his head!

As Clarence quite rightly says, we are constantly being told that to stage the games will benefit the whole country, then let the whole country pay for them.
What possible benefit Upminster will derive from them is quite beyond me - almost as mystifying as to what Upminster is doing in a London borough anyway, as far as I'm aware it's still in Essex.

The Mayor wants to be known as the man who brought the games to London, I think it much more likely that he will go down as the idiot who wasted £15 million of our money on a futile bid! Does he really believe that the IOC is daft enough to swallow all the fantasies that he is peddling?

As for the total estimated cost £2.4 billion, you can quite confidently treble this figure and you may be somewhere near a true final figure.

29.3.05

Editor: A forthright view from MB of Upminster. As set out in the April Bulletin, there are three questions I would like a good answer to before we all jump on the Back the Bid bandwagon -

a) If the whole country is set to benefit from the Games, then why is it that only Londoners are expected to pay an additional supplement of £20 per year for 12 years?

b) Businesses across London are far more likely to benefit form the Games than the average resident. Why is there no supplement being added to London Business Rates?

c) Why was there no consultation with Londoners regarding the funding before it was agreed?


Christine Morton, Emerson Park:

RA COMMUNITY WEBSITE A REAL CREDIT

I just wanted to say 'WELL DONE' for the website! It is really a cornerstone of the RA and such a helpful, informative, fresh, welcoming site.

The articles are always recent and really showcase local issues for local people.

I did find other local websites run by the other groups. What an embarrassment! They claim to have local issues for local people, but the last news items were from December 2004. The "Have Your Say" forms are merely carbon-copy composites, and you certainly don't get a local flavour from it. No forum, no letters to the editor, no listings of meetings or anything. Makes you question just exactly what purpose they serve for the community?

Hope you realise what a service to the community the website is providing!

29.3.05

Editor: Thanks for those kind comments.


Tony Burns, Upminster:

ALLOWANCES AND PUBLIC OFFICE

With regard to the letter (19.2.05) from Cllr Reith about allowances, I would
certainly welcome a public debate about the issue.

The introduction of allowances has seen the creation of the career politician.
Even though Cllr Reith makes the point that those with strong principles
do not have to accept payment, the spirit of public office has changed in
terms of elected representation.

Does the RA have a future? Well the jury is still out on that. If it does
it will be down to the army of people who give their time without thought
of payment. My wife and I were proud to be part of that army

29.3.05

Editor: The move from serving in public office on a voluntary basis to a salaried basis will inevitably attract much debate. The above is an abridged version of Mr Burns letter and should anyone wish to contact him to discuss in greater detail please contact us.



Upminster Resident:

PLANNING DECISIONS NEED ATTENTION!

I was interested to read Cllr Linda Hawthorn's comments regarding the decisions made by the Regulatory Services Committee (letter, March 18).

I recently attended one of these planning meetings as an objector to a proposed local development. Sitting through the whole evening's proceedings, opened my eyes very widely as to how flippantly some of the proposed plans were dealt with.

On a couple of occasions, the panel did not even bother to look at the plans and computer images on either of the two large screens, and then raised their hands to vote before the chairman had even said whether it was a vote for or against.

On another occasion the person counting the votes had to confess that he hadn't counted properly and asked the panel to raise their hands again. The second time round, one of the panel changed their vote!

Resident's lives can be greatly affected by having unwanted developments foisted upon their community. If what I witnessed is an indication of how decisions are made, all within a few minutes, and by a show of hands, then the system needs looking at very seriously.

24.3.05

Editor - The outcome of planning decisions can make a huge difference to people's lives and the process needs to stand up against the fullest scrutiny. Perhaps the greatest frustration is where a local authority refuses an application only for the Secretary of State to overturn the decision. What do others think? e.mail your views to Have Your Say.


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster:

CONSERVATION AREAS NEED CONSERVING!

As a member of the Regulatory Services Committee, which decides on the various planning applications received by the Council, I am beginning to wonder if there is any reason why certain areas of our borough are designated as Conservation Areas as this appears to have little relevance to the committee!

Opposite the Romford Brewery frontage, with it’s magnificent wrought iron gates is what, until recently, was Secrets nightclub.

The building (c.1890) was originally an old coach-house called the Woolpack. The building is not listed but formed a focal point for the area. A spokesperson for English Heritage commented: “The fact that a building does not meet the criteria for listing does not mean it is automatically without merit. The Woolpack makes a significant contribution to the conservation of the area”.

The inside of the building had been vastly changed, and was not perhaps worth keeping. In terms of the frontage, perhaps it could be a simple matter of literally bolting it onto the new building. The streetscene would remain unchanged and the Conservation area is conserved – in addition it is a relatively cheap and easy way of resolving the problem.

This could have been done in this case, but it was not considered. Now we have an older building being pulled down to be replaced by a modern development – not what one would expect in a Conservation area!

18.3.05

Editor - A good point raised by Cllr Hawthorn, what do others think? Post your comments to Have Your Say


John Ashford:

THE PRICE OF OLD RUBBISH!

The reason Havering is prone to fly tipping is because of the price you have to pay to get rid of your old furniture, fridges etc.

If you live in Barking & Dagenham they take it away free of charge!

17.3.05

Editor: As outlined in my February editorial, a scheme where bulky items can be disposed of in a responsible and convenient manner, at no additional cost to residents, will surely reduce the volume of fly-tipping we experience in Havering.


S. Hartman, Hornchurch:

A GOOD WALK RUINED!

I have recently moved back into Hornchurch area having lived in the countryside of Essex for some twenty years.

During my time away I acquired a dog and I thought it great that I could walk my dog around the roads of Emerson Park and not have to walk the muddy fields. Firstly I was surprised and appalled at the amount of dog faeces on the pavements. It would help if in most streets a small bin attached to a lamp post was installed and secondly a heavy fine for those who are so inconsiderate as to not clear up after their pets.

Being a daily walker I also noted that the pavements in some streets are really quite disgusting. Why they can't be removed, sold to builder merchants and replaced with either tarmac or some such other base, I do not know. So much money is spent outside our community - what about looking after the rate payers first!

13.3.05


Editor - As mentioned in an earlier letter, allowing dogs to foul public land is currently punishable by £50 on-the-spot fines or up to £1,000 in a magistrates court. However, the government are proposing to increase this penalty. But who is going to enforce it? In a five month period from November 2003, the Keep Britain Tidy group reveal that there were only 13 fines handed out across the whole of London.


Christine Morton, Hornchurch:

LIBRARIES IN NEED

I am jealous!

While the residents of Upminster and their Councillors can debate about the merits of beautiful railings in Upminster, the people of Hornchurch have much larger "ugliness" issues.

Hornchurch Library is hideous and an eyesore to the community. So is Gidea Park Library. The paint is faded and peeling, and both buildings look tired, old, and certainly unwelcoming. When is Havering Council going to do something about it?

I seriously am considering launching another letter-writing campaign to have this issue addressed. We need to take pride in our community too!

13.3.05

Editor: There has certainly been plenty of debate in the local press regarding the Council's Library improvement programme. They certainly represent a focal point in the community and are worth taking pride in - lets hope that improvements come sooner rather than later!


Cllr Linda Hawthorn, Upminster:

LETS NOT SETTLE FOR ADEQUATE!

I was interested to read the letter (Upminster Improvements - 21.2.05) regarding the new railings at the Bell Broadway in Upminster, and am pleased that our editor has re-confirmed the point raised in the original article that this is costing us nothing from our Council Tax, as it is funded via Transport for London (TfL) money we have been allocated.

What surprised me in the letter was the statement that the old railings were quite adequate! Yes, I suppose they were - but they were also cheap, ugly and shoddy looking. Is this what the residents of Upminster want?

Plenty of things are adequate, for example - road sweeping, where a few bits of litter have been left, or painting, where drips of paint have run down the wall, or graffiti removal, where the outline can still be seen.

As a councillor I do not settle for adequate, I believe I was elected to get the best for my voters. Considering how much we pay in tax, let's see Upminster looking good, with good quality, uniformed furniture and fixtures in our streets - and let's put adequate behind us!

12.3.05

Editor - A good point strongly made. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, and we pay handsomely in terms of taxation. The government now adjudge the quality of councils through an annual appraisal known as the Comprehensive Performance Assessment. Every council, including Havering, strive for excellence and we, as residents, should embrace the same aspirations.


Cllr Malvin Brown, Hornchurch:

FRUIT FALL TREES - NOT QUITE FOR THE CHOP!

Further to the article concerning the removal of fruit fall trees, I have been assured by the Environmental maintenance department that if you have a tree outside your house the Council will contact you first for your input. However, if you have fruit trees in your road that you wish to keep you would be best advised to make your views known immediately to the Council (Barbara Washington 01708 432651) - just in case they do forget to inform you.

I have a pear tree outside my house which I was instrumental in having planted following the demise of another during the gales of 1987. Having seen it grow up, and nurtured it on the way, I am rather fond of it.

As soon as I learned of their plans I informed them that I wanted it kept. Nevertheless, it does shed a lot of fruit and so I take it upon myself to sweep up the fruit fall.

5.3.05


RB, Upminster:

NO ARMY REQUIRED!

It is not necessary to have an ‘army’ of attendants to catch motorists parking illegally. A walk from Upminster station to Stewart Avenue on virtually any evening at 9pm would find at least 6 cars parked illegally.

In fairness to the motorists, however, what is the logic of closing Hoppy Hall car park in the evening?

4.3.05

Editor: There is always an argument, especially from those who park illegally, that there are already too many wardens!

It was agreed at the Upminster, Cranham & Emerson Park Area Committee (18.3.04) that the Hoppy Hall car park should shut at 7:30pm. This was in direct response to the many concerns expressed by residents in respect of the constant anti-social behaviour experienced there in the evenings.



IAN ROBERTS, UPMINSTER:

PAVEMENTS ARE FOR PEOPLE – NOT CARS!

I have to agree with the resident who wrote regarding 'Pavement Parking'. I find this most annoying and it's not restricted to the mentioned area. During the day in Upminster, there are vehicles parked on the pavement up by the Florist, Essex Joinery and the Collectors Forum - why are these vehicles not clamped or removed?

As a resident of Hall Lane I am a great believer in using the local shops in Avon Road and Front/Moor Lanes but to find a parking space is almost impossible! Unlike others I do not use the bus stops or park on double yellow lines. How many times have we seen a bus in these areas or in fact in Upminster, especially outside HSBC and Barclays Banks, unable to drop their older residents safely on the pavement? It is written on the back of the buses that it is a £100 fine for this offence but I've never seen a parking ticket issued.

It’s the same in the Village bus stops, last Saturday at both Avon Road and Front Lane all the three stops were full of cars. I have taken note that commuters travel to the area then catch the bus to Upminster Station, leaving their parked cars in both areas all day.

Is it not time that there was a one-hour restriction in all these areas and Red lines in the bus stops? The particular dangers are cars parked outside Tesco Express on the 'Zig-Zag' lines by the pedestrian lights in Front lane.

1.3.05

Editor – The Council has confirmed that it does issue tickets to offenders. However, unless we employ an army of parking attendants, many people will simply get away with it. In the long term, perhaps the use of CCTV may offer a solution – raising these matters through the Area Committee would be a step in the right direction as it gives the issue some formality and thus enables action to be planned.


SG, Upminster:

UPMINSTER IMPROVEMENTS?

I would be very interested to find out the cost of the unnecessary green and gold railings which have recently been installed around the traffic light junction at St Mary's Lane/Bell Corner in Upminster. As our council tax is already extremely high why are the council wasting money on replacing what were quite adequate railings?

I would be interested to hear if there is a logical reaon for wasting our money?

21.2.05

Editor: The works referred to are actually paid for by Transport for London and not directly through our Council Tax. In 2003 the scheme received an allocation of £423,000 to be spent over a 3 year period (£100,000 in 2005/06 being the final year).

The replacement railings (the hand rails are to be painted green!) are part of the overall scheme which includes resurfacing of the footpath, new lamp columns and road junction measures. Cllr Linda Hawthorn sets out the plan for the remaining works elsewhere on this web site (see news on home page) and the overall impression appears to be one of improvement.


Councillor Barbara Reith, Leader of the Residents Group:

ALLOWANCES - MOVING FORWARD

Reading through the letters feature I noticed a few, rather barbed, letters regarding Members Allowances. As with much in life, there are varying opinions on this subject. Personally I am quite happy to defend our position and discuss this issue with anyone, but I am increasingly concerned at some of the venomous commentary I have read. I would like, therefore, to point out the following:-

1. Regardless of what anybody may believe, the role and responsibilities of a Councillor have changed dramatically over the past three years. In short, to describe the job as a part time one is a nonsense because it is full time, plus evening work and a weekend job - i.e. 24/7.

2. One particular correspondent drew attention to "couples" who are Councillors. Does the correspondent seriously think their work is halved? Each Councillor has their own constituency work, responsibilities to a number of outside bodies plus their work within the Council - regardless of whether they are married to another Member. I just do not understand what planet your correspondent is living on - if he and his wife both had jobs would they not both draw a salary? My son and daughter in law both work for the same company in the City, but they are not expected to 'share' one income!

3. The same correspondent draws attention to the recent resignation of Councillor Andrew Curtin. Completely missing the reasons for Andrew's resignation from the Conservative Group, your correspondent picks up the allowance issue and refers to the nobility of someone prepared to cede his allowance. Councillor Curtin's resignation had nothing whatsoever to do with allowances and had drawn his own (and earned every penny of it!) up until the day of his resignation. Is your correspondent inferring that everyone else is corrupt, doing very little and turning a blind eye to everyone's else's misdemeanours in order to continue drawing their allowances? If so, I want
evidence which will be placed before the Standards Board.

4. The correspondent, and others within your member Associations seem to feel strongly about this issue, but a solution is in their hands. All they have to do is insist their Associations only sponsor those candidates who agree not to draw an allowance. To safeguard themselves, they should have letters to this effect signed in readiness for their Candidates successful return at the elections so these letters can be lodged with the Council the following day. After all, no-one is obliged to accept any allowance which means those with such strong principals have no fear of being compromised.

19.2.05

Editor: Is it not time that the concept of councillors being remunerated with a reasonable allowance is an accepted part of public life?

Like in any other sphere of employment there may well be individuals who do not work as hard as others and there will always be people who have strong views on the subject. The Councillors I have the privilege of knowing certainly earn their allowance.

As Cllr Reith points out, the roles and responsibilities of Councillors have changed dramatically in recent times - it's time to move forward.


PS, Upminster:

ARE PAVEMENTS FOR CARS?

Am I the only one or is it something which, at my age, (50 in June) I am less tolerant at?
However working in the city I tend to leave Upminster early and quite often return late 8 or 9 at night. Unfortunately there seems to be number of cars parked outside the new Roomes furniture store on the pavement.

These cars, which can only be classed as quality (last night it was a porche parked on the pavement) may well be there for the owners to enjoy the local restaurants.

However I have to ask the question, do we not have ample parking in Upminster? No! These inconsiderate car drivers decide to park on the pavement. This not only lends itself to injury for people who have impaired vision, but it must damage the pavement.

I am sure at some stage the council will be looking for an increase in rates to replace the worn out pavement.
This continued parking will undermine the block paving and could cause a dip, leading to an injury of the infirm or young. Again the council will end up picking up any legal costs and court awards for an unsafe environment.

Surely we could do something. I suggest the removal of the car with a £ 70 fee. This will make them think twice about parking the car on the pavement

ps Excellent paper the Bulletin…. Keep it up!

2.2.05

Editor – An excellent point! This is entirely a matter for enforcement. A £70 fine would be quite modest, but if there is no-one there to enforce the law then the amount is immaterial. Because the owners of these vehicles know they can park unchallenged and without penalty they will continue to do so. We shall bring the matter up with the relevant council department and report back via this website.


Matt, Cranham:

GRAFFITI EYESORE IN CRANHAM

I have noticed the graffiti on the railway bridge in Cranham seems to be getting worse. I have rang the rail services on several occasions about this and I really feel that no matter how much we clean up Cranham this eyesore always stands out.

I now understand that under new guidelines that the owners of graffiti covered property has to now clean it up if not the local council can step in and do so and then charge the owner.

Please can this idea be looked into, otherwise I am sure that the use of a jet wash could easily clean up the problem. Lets cut through the red tape and clean up this eyesore.

1.2.05

Editor - The best way to combat this scourge is to remove it as soon as possible. Determining ownership of properties affected can often be difficult, and then to encourage action can be even more difficult. Fresh efforts are being made to contact the rail company in question.


VB, Cranham:

CRANHAM CAR PARK NOW IN LINE!

I was very pleased to see that the white lines have now been repainted in the
small surface carpark in Cranham Village.

Hopefully this will put an end to the random parking which was occurring because
drivers couldn't see where the the parking bays were, especially at night, as
the lines had badly worn away.

I hope that shoppers at Tesco will now make full use of this car park, instead
of parking at the bus stop outside the shops. I also hope that the selfish
drivers who actually park on the pavement, right outside Tesco, will stop doing
this and use the car park instead.

1.2.05

Editor - Part of work that went into the clean-up Cranham day in October included clearing up the Car Park. The new lines not only look much better but will also promote the efficient use of spaces.

Whether or not some 'Tesco' shoppers will now use the car park instead of the bus stop remains to be seen!


Jane, Upminster:

WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR TREE?

As a resident of The Grove, I was very saddened to see that the demise of the lovely old beech tree on the junction of The Grove and Little Gaynes Lane. However, I fully appreciate the fact that a diseased tree is a danger to the public, and to property, and that it therefore had to be removed. I was relieved to read in an article in the Romford Recorder during the first week of November last year that , although the tree had to be removed , it was going to be replaced.

What has saddened me today, Thursday 13th January, is the fact that this morning a group of workmen have completely tarmaced over the existing pavement and the area that, naively, I had thought had been left for re-planting.

Under normal circumstances I would be delighted to see re-paving work undertaken. Should I expect another group of workmen to dig it up again soon to plant the tree that was ' promised '?

I am cynical enough to believe that today's activities are a useful way of using up any excess council funds before the end of their financial year.

I would be interested to receive your comments

1.2.05

Editor: Where possible, it is standard practice to replace diseased trees which are removed with healthy specimens. Our Councillors have looked into the matter and are pleased to say that a new tree will be planted.


JC, Cranham:

COUNCIL TAX OVER 10 MONTHS?

I would like to know by whose authority does the Council have in demanding that the total rate payable is due over a 10 month period and not over the full 12 months.

28.1.05

Editor: Put simply, it is the law. This is known as the Statutory Instalment Scheme which was passed in 1992, a year ahead of the introduction of the Council Tax. The authority is contained within the Statutory Instrument No. 613 Part 1 of Schedule 1. It prescribes that ten instalments are payable at monthly intervals if the demand is issued on or before 30th April.


Marion Tilby, Australia:

G’DAY FROM DOWN UNDER!

My name is Marion Tilby (nee Newberry) and I used to live in Ashvale Gardens, Upminster. A good friend has told me about the new website and the Upminster and Cranham Residents’ Association. I enjoy reading your our web site - it is as though I never left England when I read all the news!

I was back at Ashvale Gardens in August 2004 to see an old friend, Tony Fisher, and it was nice to be back and reminisce. Even the clock on Oglethorpe school is still in the original blue and yellow colours! Had a drive through Upminster of course, and shopped at Roomes Stores (glad that is still there - I now have an Upminster tea towel in my kitchen which I bought at there!).

I was particularly pleased to see two shops that are still there - Kilburn's, where we used to get stockings and gloves, and Swan Libraries (opposite the Library). I could not believe Swan Libraries was still there (there used to be a shoe repairers next door). From 1961 to 1967 a group of us had to wait in the doorway of Swan Libraries every morning to wait for the school coach to take us to Aveley County Technical High School (as it was called then).

What a shame about Boyd Hall. We drove past and I saw it was all boarded up - but now the fire! I used to go to Brownies there and later on the Rangers (Scouts and Guides were there too).

Wishing you all the best!

20.1.05

Editor: How nice it is to get correspondence from the other side of the world! It just goes to show how the power of the internet can make communications so much easier, regardless of distance. Is there anyone else out there reading this from a remote or exotic location? Please send us a message!


Peter Galloway, Chairman Upminster Residents’ Association:

POST XMAS MESS A DISGRACE

Christmas day /Boxing day over I decide to go for a stroll and get some fresh air, no idyllic scenes for me I am afraid. Shop windows broken, advertising boards, telephone boxes, and bus shelters all damaged with glass scattered over the footpaths. Black bags dumped alongside litterbins plus the unsightly scene of rubbish accumulated in our car parks alongside the bottle banks. Lets not forget residents who have put their bags out for collection and left them there because they have forgotten the collection day has changed over the bank holiday. Did they bother to take them back in….no!

This is all anti-sociable attributed by residents’ young and old, yes same old story and again I have to say it - lets try and keep our area clean. We keep working on trying to get things improved but when residents behave in this manner I wonder is it really worth it, obviously you like living like it, I don’t.

Residents keep moaning about council money and how it is spent, but with issues of this kind extra resources have to be found to tidy up after inconsiderate residents act in this way. Yet they are the first to complain about trivial matters, lets see what they have to say.

It would be nice to find out if other areas have the same problem and perhaps a new initiative borough wide could be undertaken.

4.1.05

Editor: Peter is absolutely right to point out the civic responsibility applies to us all, both young and old. There are some who will criticise our youth at the drop of a hat, but will leave their rubbish outside for days on end.

A borough wide initiative to tackle this issue is a splendid idea. The answer is notrocket science, it is a simple awareness of the community we live in and the people we share it with.

What do you think? E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’


Tony Burns, Upminster:

STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART?

The latest Bulletin carries a report entitled ‘The Heart of Havering’, I would like to make the following point.

Last year when I had problems with my Angina I was advised by my GP to contact the new cardiovascular screening service set up for people at risk. When I contacted this service I was told there was a six weeks delay due to lack of funding. It would appear they could only afford one nurse.

On seeing ‘The Heart of Havering’ article in The Bulletin I phoned the number for the official on the PCT dealing with queries. He of course was not available but I was given two other numbers who could deal with emergencies.

This means we have three officials but only one nurse at the sharp end. I would like some explanation from the PCT as to how they can justify this kind of jiggery-pokery?

4.1.05

Editor: Are there any other accounts residents would like to share?

E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’


David Ramsey, Sycamore Avenue, Upminster:

GERPINS LANE TIP NOT SO GREAT!

Following various articles on the Gerpins Lane Tip, I would like to make the following comments:

A statement from Shanks indicates that they place priority on the safety of the customers and the staff, I disagree with this assertion. I think that the layout of the facility is poor and just after it re-opened I e-mailed Shanks to express my view that the unloading arrangements are unsatisfactory in that cars park nose to tail, with no defined area to allow unloading from the boot, and also the arrangement of two lanes of parked cars meant there is a danger of crossing traffic.

I received an acknowledgement of receipt of my E-mail but have not had a satisfactory response from their safety officer.

I have been on several safety courses whilst working in the construction industry and would be willing to meet at Gerpins Lane with a Shanks safety representative to discuss my reservations but I find that they are not interested.

With regard to the wall surrounding the enclosure, I agree that it is required to separate the public from the machinery inside but surely it could have been lower than waist height.

4.1.05

Editor: Any more views regarding the Gerpins Lane Tip.

E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say


David Henderson, 9th Squirrels Heath Scout Group, Harold Wood:

UNFAIR TIP FOR LOCAL SCOUTS!

It is with interest that I read of all the praise being heaped on the owners
of the site at Gerpins Lane Tip.

I am secretary of the 9th Squirrels Heath Scout group in Harold Wood and have recently written to our MP to complain about the service offered to our group which is a registered charity. The staff at the site refuse to recognise us as such and demand that we pay as traders when we use the site to clear our left over goods following our fund raising jumble sales.

We complained to the local authority who advised us to return unsold items to those who donated them, (what planet do they live on?) and they also suggested seeing how long we could get away with using the Barking and Dagenham site in Frizlands Lane.

We have received a response from the MP stating that she is appalled to hear
this and is writing to the council. We await further response.

I wonder if any other local groups or charities have had this experience
with Gerpins Lane.

31.12.04

Editor – A very valid point which highlights a bona fide issue and some astonishing advice!

We shall also await with interest the response from the council and will feature the issue on this website.

As Dave mentions, is there anyone else out there with similar experiences?

E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’


Tony Burns, Upminster:

SCHOOL CROSSING PATROL SUCCESS

You will be pleased to know that Cllr Gillian Ford and I have secured an undertaking from the Council that they will mark the school crossing at Bell corner in the new year.

One of life’s' little ironies is that having been successful in persuading normal motorists not to park there. Their place has been taken by blue badge holders who are much more difficult to dislodge.

Although parking on the wiggly lines is an endorsable offence only the police can issue such a ticket. So in theory a traffic warden can call for a police officer to issue a ticket this is a beauracratic nightmare.

One way round this problem would be for PCSOS' to be allowed this privilege. Its the old story once the public realise the traffic laws will be enforced they will respect them.

The question of Blue badge holders is somewhat different. While one has every sympathy with people who are disabled the terms of the Blue badge says they must not park on school crossings or anywhere that would cause a dangerous obstruction.

If they collect three tickets for this offence the Blue badge privilege can be withdrawn. So there is a definite need for publicity and information on this issue.

Parking is likely to be an emotive issue in the coming Council elections. So maybe the RA should be considering their position on this issue?

From my own position I got five boxes of chocolates plus three Xmas cards from the kids in Upminster Junior School plus a bottle of vintage port from the headmaster and a promise to put the parking problems in their new years newsletter.

23.12.04

Editor – It’s good news that the school crossing outside Upminster School is to be marked.

In terms of enforcement, the idea of giving PCSO’s more powers would be beneficial to the community. This would enable them to assist their police colleagues even further. However, it is important to highlight that bestowing greater powers should be accompanied by greater training.

What do you think? E.mail your views to ‘Have Your Say’


Mrs. K. Palmer, Cranham,

CRANHAM ‘PONG’ REVEALED!

I have just received a telephone call from the local environmental health officer who has told me the cause of the recent nasty smell!  

It appears that Anglia Water, who have a small sewage works in the vicinity of Clay Tye Road, have been importing 'sludge' from other parts of the country. They then add lime to this, in order to sterilise it before use. However, the process can, in certain situations, produce the gas ammonia.

This is what happened on the 7th Dec. The atmospheric conditions on the night trapped the gas within the local area. This resulted in the extremely bad smell we experienced.  They are apparently due to finish the process by next week. However, they do not rule out Anglia Water importing and processing this 'sludge' again.

At least the cause has now been discovered, whether or not this is appropriate in a residential area is another matter.

10.12.04

Editor- Many thanks for that. The thought of breathing in ammonia is not pleasant. If it is atmospheric conditions that create the Cranham ‘pong’, then I am sure that Anglia Water have enough resources and expertise to predict the situaton and to delay processing while those conditions prevail.

What do you think?

e.mail your views to Have Your Say.      


PP, Hornchurch

DOG MESS IS NO FUN

Are you a dog walker?  If so, read on.  This may be for you.  Your dog cannot clear up the mess it makes when it fouls the pavement.  That falls to you.  Please do the right thing and take the responsibility for cleaning up after your dog.  

If you are the person who persistently allows their dog to foul the pavement in Minster Way, usually in front of someone’s driveway or path (you know who you are) please have some consideration for other residents and start cleaning up after your dog.

10.12.04

Editor – Allowing dogs to foul public land is currently punishable by £50 on-the-spot fines or up to £1,000 in a magistrates court. However, the government are proposing to increase this penalty. But who is going to enforce it? In a five month period from November 2003, the Keep Britain Tidy group reveal that there were only 13 fines handed out across the whole of London.

What do you think?

e.mail your views to Have Your Say


Mrs. K. Palmer, Cranham,

KICKING UP A STINK IN CRANHAM

This evening (7.12.04), in Cranham, for approximately 2 hours, we have experienced a very nasty smell permeating our house and in the surrounding area.

I spoke to the gas company initially as I was not sure whom to contact.  Their engineer informed me that it wasn't gas but was a smell unlike any he had smelt before and was within a mile radius of my house.

I have lived in Cranham for 30 years and it was not the normal fertiliser smell of the fields, by any stretch of the imagination.  I then managed to contact environmental health who said they had received many calls and would send a fax about the problem, to the people concerned, tomorrow morning, as they did not work out of hours!  I informed him that people in Cranham could be breathing this smell all night and it was making me feel sick as well as giving me sore eyes.

Surely there should be a proper procedure for this kind of thing, an immediate investigation just in case there were toxic fumes, etc.  The man from environmental health telephoned me later to say that no chemical spillage, etc. had been reported and he had no idea what it might be.  Other people he had spoken to, living nearer South Ockenden, had mentioned that this smell had come from somewhere in Rainham about a week ago.

Surely this kind of thing should be thoroughly investigated for the sake of all our health, especially if it is coming from some company not wishing to advertise the problem. Is there not a government procedure for this? I feel I should draw attention to the problem. Although the smell has fortunately dispersed now, it may not do so on another occasion and I feel concerned at the lack of response generally.

7.12.04

Editor – The smell was certainly offensive and, perhaps more worrying; no one seemed to know what it was!

We shall investigate what procedures are in place to deal with this kind of problem and report back on this website.


Mr. P, Rainham

COUNCIL TAX PAYMENT – WHY 1st OF THE MONTH ?

I recently had a letter from the council asking me if I am having difficulty paying my council tax.

Going back as far as 1950, I have paid my council tax on time throughout.

I had difficulty paying because I was on holiday in Majorca and as far as I know there are no payment facilities there!

The council say payment is due on the 1st of the month, and this I accept, but any reputable organisation allows time to pay – in fact the council letter gives until the 19th. There is also the threat of court action. As a retired magistrate, I know that even the criminal justice system will allow time to pay!

The council suggest paying by direct debit. But my pension is paid at the end of the month - if the council want it on that date, then that’s fine by me.

I find it inexcusable that after paying council tax on time for 54 years that I should receive a letter like this. Not only has it proved is it offensive, but it is a clear waste of time, effort and resources.

The council’s object should be to save money, not to waste it.

2.12.04

Editor – It is quite remarkable that we are expected to pay for our council tax in advance. I am not paid my salary in advance, I do not pay my utility bills in advance nor do I pay my credit card in advance. But it is somehow acceptable to pay council tax in advance.

The council may well have legal authority on it’s side but when one considers the excessive charges we pay and the quality of service received in return, it beggars belief.

Payment date used to be the 15th of the month but was changed to 1st to improve cash flow and subsequent interest accrual. Is this fair? What do you think? E.mail your views to
‘Have Your Say’.


Micheline, Tawny Avenue, Upminster:

POST OFFICE NOW SORTED!

Further to my letter of 5th November (see letters) regarding the mis-spelling of Tawny Avenue, I have received the following e.mail from the Post Office confirming that they have amended their records!

'I can confirm PAF has now been amended as requested to show the correct spelling of 'TAWNY' on postcodes RM14 2EW RM14 2EN and RM14 2EP.

Our Postcodes on-line service at www.royalmail.com will reflect this change from tomorrow, although this correction could take several months to filter through to end users of PAF Data.

I can only suggest the incorrect spellings were made when the addresses were added to PAF but as that was 1988 and you advise the error is recent, which I apologise for, it could be we have been misadvised previously.

However, thank you for bringing this to our attention. If I can be of any further assistance concerning this matter please do not hesitate to contact me'.

26.11.04

Editor- Thanks for that.


Brendan McWeeney, Parkstone Avenue, Emerson Park
:
PARKSTONE AVENUE DANGER JUNCTION

During the last few years there have been numerous serious accidents at the junction of Parkstone Avenue with Nelmes Road.

All the accidents have been between cars travelling from the Wingletye Lane direction with cars entering Parkstone Avenue from Nelmes Road. The root cause of the problem are vehicles going too fast down Parkstone Avenue and vehicles are then edging out onto Parkstone Avenue but due to the speed of the vehicles travelling down Parkstone Avenue neither party are able to avoid a collision.

The wider than normal road width on Parkstone Avenue is conducive to people exceeding the 30mph speed limit and as a resident I know it is difficult to keep within the speed limit when using this stretch of road.

Speed cameras or road humps are not an ideal solution as people just resume their excessive speed once these obstacles have been passed. I would be in favour of a width restriction situated near the junction of Parkstone Avenue and Nelmes Road but this also probably presents it own problems.

I would be interested to know if the Council are aware of this problem and if they are aware - do they have any proposals to avoid the number of serious accidents and is there a timetable for action to be taken.

16.11.04

Editor - As you point out, Parkstone Avenue is a wide road with few cars parked on the roadside thereby increasing the risk of excessive speed. I understand your concerns have been passed onto your ward councillors and we would be grateful for any updates.



Micheline, Tawny Avenue, Upminster:

POST OFFICE NOT SORTED!

It has come to my attention, as well as several of my neighbours, that the Post Office Database appears to have the spelling of our road incorrectly listed as Tawney Avenue.

This error was highlighted after twice returning DVLC documentation that had Tawny Avenue mis-spelt. My husband called in to the local Sorting Office to inform them, but to no avail. Several neighbours have also tried to have it corrected without success.

The knock-on effect is that any formal documentation, or application, that contains our Post Code is then automatically entered with our road name mis-spelt. I emailed the Post Office on 4th November requesting them to amend their Database and am awaiting confirmation that this has been done. Fingers Crossed!

5.11.04

Editor – Please keep us posted!


SHEILA TROWBRIDGE, WARRINGTON GARDENS, HORNCHURCH:

26.10.04

I wonder if anyone in your organisation would be able to pressurise the
Council into sorting out the sorry mess that is our local park, namely Haynes
Park on Slewins Lane.
The Pavilion has been vandalised for the past few years culminating in it
being set on fire what must now be at least two years ago. I would have
assumed that the Council would have had an insurance claim to either repair the building or to demolish it. The Council has wasted precious monies on trying to fence the building off but to no avail, the vandals always win resulting in there now being even more debris around the site. The toilets and basins have been ripped out and more fires have been started. The whole area is a complete slum with glass and rubbish strew around.  The yobs have now started to hack to pieces our beautiful trees which is the last straw and has prompted me to write to you.

We have spoken to Mr Rosindell but he seems to be all mouth and trousers. We have contacted the Council but it is all "water off a ducks back". They have had the audacity to put two new swings up for young children, amidst the glass and tin cans, most other area's playgrounds are on child friendly ground, but not in Haynes, it is still the old tarmacadam.

The dog walkers of Haynes Park now feel it is a no go area after dark unless

you have a dog big enough to protect you from the hooligans. Will no one try

and return our Park to once lovely area that it was some years ago?

Editor - I totally emphasise with you about the state of the park and in particular the play area. Sadly there are plenty of similar examples across the whole borough.

As you are located in the Emerson Park ward I would recommend you contact any of the conservative Councillors (Cllr Peter Gardner, Cllr Roger Ramsey or Cllr Paul Rochford) to alert them to your concerns as they are your elected representatives. You should ask them what action they propose to take to deal with the matter and also insist on a timescale.

Concerns about anti-social behaviour and disorder should be directed to the police. Upminster Police (01708 751212) or Romford Police (01708 779125).

We have sent a photographer to Haynes Park and we will highlight the issue as a news feature on this website.

Like many issues and concerns raised by residents, it is through constant lobbying that results are usually achieved. Considering we pay the third highest council tax in London, we really should expect a standard of service that does not require us to plead for the most basic improvements.


TONY, UPMINSTER:

25.10.04

My wife and I have just returned from the public meeting of the Primary Care Trust (PCT) on the 20th of October. The theme of the meeting was working together. Their idea was to tell us what to do, our job is to carry out their wishes.

The whole thing was a complete farce. There was no PA system. The Chairman took about six questions and didn't answer any of them. As they mostly related to the failure of the PCT to provide services for patients in a
reasonable time they soon decided they were on a hiding to nothing and
closed the question and answer session.

A prominent member of the Residents’ Association complained she couldn't hear what was being said because she had been waiting for a new hearing aid for twelve months. The cost of this exercise in non-consultation would have paid for the good ladies aid. But of course it wasn't in the strategic plan.

Editor – It is a concern that any members of the public should go away from a public meeting with this impression. Are there any other residents who have similar, or indeed opposite, accounts?