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Q&A: This week, Ron Jeffries, chairman of Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, answers our questions.

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 August 2017

Archant

In the first of a new series, we put local people in the spotlight with our Q&A.

What’s your connection with the borough?

I was born in King George Hospital in Newbury Park in 1933, living here all my life. I have tried to be involved in the community – through St Peter’s Church (joining the choir at eleven, editing the monthly BROADSHEET for the past 37 years and now covering the PR), through the 1st Aldborough Hatch (St. Peter’s) Scout Group (50 years as a leader locally and nationally, eleven years editing The Scout Association’s national magazine during my career as a journalist), as a magistrate and elected bench chairman at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court and now as chairman of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association.

What’s the best thing about working or living in the borough?

I am retired with the opportunity to enjoy the green belt countryside on my doorstep, to take part in creating a community garden and restoring a 100-year-old orchard here in Aldborough Hatch. At the same time the Freedom Pass enables me to explore the world’s greatest, vibrant city – London. Photography and writing are not just hobbies but a passion and there is so much to photograph and write about – buildings, the river, the markets, people and especially local history.

What one thing would you change?

I would end the sand and gravel extraction on Fairlop Plain. Starting in the 1950s some distance from residential areas, restoration of the land gave us the superb Fairlop Waters Country Park – the “jewel in the crown of Redbridge” as a councillor once described it. But now planning permission has been granted to bring quarrying far too close to homes, schools, community halls, a mosque and two Grade II Listed Buildings (church and chapel) – with the accompanying noise and dust, research having shown that the latter will undoubtedly increase mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Use three words to describe the area.

Multi-cultural, challenging, fascinating.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Yvonne, born on the Suffolk coast until moving to live in Aldborough Hatch and work in London. We met as teenagers in the choir stalls. During 57 years of married life together Yvonne actively encouraged me to pursue the things that we believed would make a difference and inspired me by her compassion, her love of family and passionate but practical concern for others.

What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?

Yvonne and I worked as volunteers for 11 years with the Redbridge Night Shelter for the homeless – first in church halls and later at

the centre in Ilford. I would introduce a law that would ensure that local authorities have ring-fenced and adequate resources to enable those who are made homeless for any reason to have shelter and meaningful support that would keep them off the streets for as

long as it takes to get their lives back together again. The stigma

of homelessness would be ended and sleeping in doorways gone

for ever.

If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?

Improving the environment in which we live and work by encouraging and highlighting good practice in the paper. For example, our streets and open spaces are spoiled by fly-tipping and litter – those who do so should be named and shamed! Highlighting the green spaces – country parks, parks, pocket parks. Campaigning to bring homelessness to an end in Redbridge and for the vulnerable, the abused, the mentally unwell and those who cannot care for themselves.

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