Recorder letters: Schools, Barkingside FC, unhelpful council, discrimination and TfL
PUBLISHED: 12:30 24 May 2020
Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.
We must not let fear paralyse us
Will Podmore, Clavering Road, Wanstead, writes:
Opposition politicians have criticised Johnson’s announcement of the easing of lockdown restrictions as ‘vague’. Having deemed the previous rules authoritarian, these armchair critics now look back on them with nostalgia.
It’s uncomfortable being asked to examine the evidence for what to do and to use your own judgment, isn’t it? It means taking responsibility – some would rather blame the government whatever happens.
The teaching union NEU has adopted a general principle of “No going back until it’s safe”. It has asked all members to send a letter to heads refusing to take part in any discussions about how their school might reopen more widely on June 1, and instead to await advice from the union.
They say no going back. But without a positive approach, all it means is no going forward. Nothing is certain in science, but the overwhelming weight of evidence at present – from around the world – is that children are highly unlikely to suffer from the symptoms of Covid-19, and that when they catch it, they do not infect others.
How many months, how many years, are the teaching unions prepared to wait for greater reassurance?
Schools are essential, not only to education, but also to the economy. Parents struggling with the impossible task of working from home while having to look after their children, families shut up in tower blocks desperate to get back to work to pay the bills, might generally be keen for schools to reopen. They need reassurance that schools will be reasonably safe for their children to attend, and staff will be crucial in this.
We must not be paralysed by fear, but discuss how to move forward. For the foreseeable future there will be no such thing as 100 per cent safe (actually there never was).
We know we face difficult days ahead, and we will have to face them as best we can. Workers, and only workers, can fight this horrible virus, with a positive and united approach.
Plea for help on club’s history
Rob Meyers, Barkingside Football Club historian, writes:
During this enforced lockdown, I have been busy researching the beginnings of local club Barkingside FC.
One of the things that is missing are photographs, pictures or maps showing the early grounds that the side called home.
In 1899 Barkingside played at Hedgeman’s Farm and in 1921 they played many more games, as the club grew, at Fairview Farm.
Having no access to a computer or local libraries at the moment, can anyone help? However small, any information is vital to building our club’s long history.
Business rates staff unhelpful
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An Ilford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
Redbridge Council Business Rate Department staff are inefficient, rude and slow.
I applied for my business rate reference number in early April 2020. Today is May 13, 2020 and they have not sorted it yet. I have emailed twice and phoned three times. Until today nothing has been sorted.
Today when I have called, the person answered the phone and did not greet me with good afternoon or even hello.
I said I have provided my documents, can you check my account, please. The officer did not want to listen to me and said did you send the utility bills? I said no. I wanted to say that the other staff on the other day checked and said the documents were OK only to make a decision.
But today this gentleman on the phone did not listen to anything but repeated rudely that I have to send utility bills and Inland Revenue papers. He did not want to hear anything about my case. When I asked him, “May I know who am I speaking to?”, he slammed the phone down all of a sudden.
I am feel so angry by this officer’s behaviour when I am struggling to save my business and was expecting some reassurances from them rather than rude behaviour. I hope this department has a guardian.
How many from other boroughs?
An Ilford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
On what basis has this council increased council tax when all costs have been reduced due to closure of public buildings, offices, libraries, amenities, all works and services including recycling, garden and bulky waste collections, non-existent social care, day care, meals on wheels services for the elderly, most of which are being done by volunteers, neighbours, pharmacies?
The council in fact discriminates against the elderly by posting everything online as the majority don’t use it. It is shocking to learn that having been provided with increased funds from the government this council (whose responsibility it is, not the government’s) haven’t organised timely procurement and delivery of PPE to frontline workers.
Another absolute disgrace is having been overwhelmingly rejected by constituents, they continue to throw away our money on their spurious Community Hub/inferior housing projects, which involves selling off all our amenities, causing blight, pollution, environmental and social issues, to bring more people into our already overcrowded borough which hasn’t the infrastructure to cope.
Since our money is not being used for the benefit of resident tax payers, it’s time to come clean on the number of people who’ve come into Redbridge in the last three years, whose housing costs are being paid for by other authorities, plus transparency on borough leaders’ salaries and salary rises in the past year.
Gratuitous kick in teeth for London
Alison Moore, London Assembly member, writes:
In the midst of this crisis, it has been incredibly disappointing to see the government force such a punitive and damaging bailout deal upon TfL.
When they should be working constructively with City Hall to help the capital through this pandemic, the government’s fare hike, sudden changes to the Freedom Pass and saddling of TfL with debt is a gratuitous kick in the teeth for Londoners.
This will hit some of the poorest the hardest. It is also nonsensical that Londoners have been effectively singled out and punished in this way, after doing the right thing and staying at home and away from public transport to contain the virus.
The government needs to own up to the fact that where they could have helped TfL back on track to recovery, they have inflicted unnecessary pain and uncertainty. They must reconsider this decision.
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