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Recorder letters: wheelchairs on buses, IHRA and Fairlop nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 September 2018

Wheelchair users often find that the disabled spaces on buses are taken up by buggies. Photo: PA

Wheelchair users often find that the disabled spaces on buses are taken up by buggies. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

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

Be fair to wheelchairs on buses

A Hainault resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

May I please start a debate through your pages about the dire situation many wheelchair users face when using buses run, notably by Stagecoach, in Redbridge.

The buses clearly state that wheelchair users have priority over buggy users and that buggy users must give way to wheelchair users. Stagecoach drivers seem unaware of this and allow buggy users to occupy the wheelchair space with impunity.

One example, today at the Tunstall Avenue stop, a Barkingside bound 247 bus had two buggy users. I asked the driver if he could ask one of them to move (not off, I hasten to add) to let me on.

He said no but that I should ask them. I politely did and one of the buggy users (a woman with long dark hair, cockney accent with a buggy and walking small child) refused saying that the “bus driver couldn’t make her move”.

I said “shame on you” and seemingly secure in this knowledge she swore it me, unprovoked and using the “F” word.

She embarrassed and shamed herself, presenting an appalling role model for her children – how are they going to grow up thinking about disabled people?

She knows who she is and I hope will manage herself more reasonably in the future if only for her children’s sake, let alone mine.

So come on Stagecoach, up your game – give us wheelchair users a fair crack of the whip and practise what you publicly preach about use of wheelchair spaces on your buses.

Wrong to adopt full IHRA definition

Diana Neslen, Cranbrook Road; Murray Glickman, Clarendon Gardens and Barbara White, Bramley Crescent, write:

In his View from the House on August 23, Mike Gapes MP states that the refusal of the Labour Party to adopt all the 11 examples of the IHRA definition has caused great offence.

However, Mike Gapes does not explain why the 11 examples are so contentious. The Labour Party has accepted the 38 word initial definition of antisemitism which covers antisemitism against Jews as Jews, but agreed on a code of conduct with respect to implementing it as a disciplinary measure. This code of conduct addresses the problems associated with the 11 examples in such a way as to protect free speech. Incidentally the Tory party has not accepted the full 11 examples.

Some of the 11 examples are contentious. Seven of the 11 examples refer to Israel and not to Jews as Jews. Lord Bracadale, the esteemed Scottish judge, has said that Israel is not a protected characteristic under equalities law, as states cannot be protected; only individuals can.

Kenneth Stern, a strong supporter of Israel, who wrote the definition, has clearly stated it should be used as a tool for data collection purposes not to address antisemitism, because it undermines freedom of speech, something dear to his heart. Incorporating the examples would mean that Palestinians and their supporters would be unable to express their views about the racism of Israel, now codified into law.

The original document has been around for about 11 years but gained new currency in 2015 when the 38 IHRA member states adopted it. A number of councils and universities adopted the full IHRA definition on the nod. There is now evidence that both universities and councils have used these examples to deny the freedom of expression to supporters of Palestinian rights. The effect of implementing the full 11 examples may well be to silence supporters of justice and human rights for Palestinians.

The use of the 11 examples to expel hundreds of people, as three Jewish newspapers demanded, would result in legal challenges under the Human Rights Act, challenges that the Labour Party would undoubtedly lose. Thus, at a time when the country would be gearing up for an election, the Labour Party would be busy defending itself in the courts of law.

Many eminent Jewish intellectuals and jurists as well as many international and national Jewish organisations and 84 Black and Minority Ethnic groups have strongly condemned the use of the 11 examples for legal purposes and have supported the code of conduct.

Were they to be adopted as Mike Gapes wants, these organisations, together with ourselves, other Jewish Labour Party members and Palestinian rights activists, could be condemned as antisemites, while, paradoxically, true antisemites like Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, would be given a free pass.

This is why haul road is so divisive

Chris Gannaway, of Aldborough Road North, Aldborough Hatch, writes:

Further to the editorial “Wildlife group slams plans for haulage road near nature reserve” and the letter “Gravel dust will have health cost”, I must respond to the comments by Brett Tarmac Limited (BTL) and Redbridge Council.

I have considerable experience of wildlife issues relating to Fairlop Plain and gravel extraction as a long-time resident and the borough representative for London Wildlife Trust, more recently spokesperson for Fairlop Birders and vice- chair of Aldborough Hatch Defence Association.

I can state categorically that no discussions have taken place with Brett Tarmac over the exact route of the haul road. We noted at the Fairlop Quarry Consultation of February 24, 2016 that the exhibition did not “provide sufficient information on the haul road and its effects on bridleway 94, Sustran bridleway through Fairlop Waters Country Park and the permissive route through the Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre” as part of our feedback to Brett Tarmac.

No document was filed as part of planning application 2089/16 stating that the haul road would enter the country park. Planning committee members’ briefing papers merely stated that the haul road would run north of development site E.

Recently a “Haul Road detail” plan dated October 2016 has come to light showing that the road would crash through the country park. For some reason this was not included in the papers before the planning committee in June 2017.

In 2010 Redbridge Council applied for Local Nature Reserve (LNR) status for part of Fairlop Waters Country Park, including the area through which it is proposed the haul road will go. This was agreed at a cabinet meeting on February 9, 2016.

Clearly there was no communication between Redbridge Council planning/land management and nature conservation teams regarding the route of the haul road. We can only conclude that this was a secret project between the council and Brett Tarmac.

I hope that this gives some clarity as to why this haul road is so divisive to the community and cannot be accepted by those that care about the natural environment of Redbridge.

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