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Recorder letters: Jas Athwal, microchip cats, Ad Astra, MS and missing benefits

PUBLISHED: 12:30 27 October 2019

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council. Picture: Andrew Baker/Redbridge Council

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council. Picture: Andrew Baker/Redbridge Council

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

Concern over council's newsletter

Garry Sukhija, Horn Lane, Woodford Green, writes:

Further to Colin Sweeting's letter (Mayor is the face of the council) in regards to the recent publication of Redbridge Life (Autumn 2019), I have concerns too which should be investigated further by the council. The publication itself paints a rosy picture of the borough, which differs from grim realities. However, there's nothing wrong in being positive and trying to put shine on things.

However, as pointed out by Mr Sweeting, the paper does appear to showcase the individual achievements of Jas Atwal. Again, potentially nothing wrong in this, and although Mr Atwal promises us that the "best is yet to come".

There is a Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity which stipulates that council newsletters should, amongst other things, be: objective; even-handed; and most importantly not coincide with an election.

Although the loophole here is no formal notice of a general election has been given, everyone knows that one is imminent.

However, the Code does state that "local authorities should not issue any publicity which seeks to influence voters". In this case the voters are Labour Party members.

Information from the council web site suggests that it costs circa £36,000 per annum to design, print and distribute Redbridge Life four times a year. It's not a great deal of money, but would go towards the cost of another police officer on our streets. As council tax and business rates payers, we pay for the publication of Redbridge Life. It's our money that's being spent, and if we have concerns, the council should listen.

Without any prejudice to Mr Atwal, I will be asking my councillors to investigate why tax-payers money is potentially being used to further individual political ambitions and possibly breaching the above-mentioned Code.

And sorry, Mr Sweeting, I counted 11 pictures of Mr Atwal to your nine!

Microchipping for all owned cats

Jacqui Cuff, head, advocacy and government relations, Cats Protection, writes:

Cats are much-loved pets, yet many of your readers may be surprised to learn that they do not have the same level of protection as dogs when it comes to microchipping.

While microchipping is compulsory for dogs, there are no such laws for cats, and this means many lost or injured cats are not able to be reunited with their owners. Being independent and curious, cats are more likely than dogs to roam and get lost far from home.

Cats Protection has launched a petition calling on the government to bring in laws to ensure that all owned cats across the UK are microchipped. Microchipping is a safe and permanent method of identification, unlike collars which are prone to coming off.

By ensuring all owned cats are microchipped, owners will have the peace of mind of knowing their cat has the best chance of being returned home should they become lost. In the sad event a cat has been killed on the roads, the details on their microchip can also ensure their owner can be informed.

We welcome Labour's Animal Welfare Manifesto, stating its intention to expand mandatory microchipping for cats, and the government's Animal Welfare Action plan committing to a consultation on cat microchipping.

Cat lovers can show their support for compulsory micrcochipping of owned cats, and help more cats be reunited with their owners, by signing Cats Protection's petition at cats.org.uk/microchippingpetition

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Ad Astra, football stars of the past

Rob Meyers, local football historian, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

A long time ago, before Brad Pitt was starring in the recent movie Ad Astra, there was a local football club of the same name.

Whilst viewing old newspapers at Redbridge Central Library, I came across a cup final win for Ad Astra, from 71 years ago - the article was dated September 23, 1948.

Ad Astra beat Fairlop FC at the 'Spotted Dog', Forest Gate, home of Clapton Football Club. Ad Astra won the match 1-0, the last 20 minutes were played in darkness.

The article had an interesting footnote; Ad Astra is Latin for 'to the stars'!

Stopping MS is possible

Scott Mills, MS Society ambassador and broadcaster, writes:

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has changed my life in many ways. Both my mum and my friend Beccy live with this relentless, painful, disabling condition. Mum was diagnosed in 2007 after years of unexplained symptoms. Then in 2012 Beccy, who was only 31 at the time, discovered she had it too.

More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK and around 10,050 have it in the East of England. People have different types and right now there are treatments that work for Beccy, but none for my mum.

Amazingly, for the first time, scientists believe stopping MS is possible. They can see a future where nobody needs to worry about MS getting worse - that means not living in fear you'll be reliant on a wheelchair, or one day lose your independence.

This has given me incredible hope and it's why I'm encouraging everyone in the East of England to support the MS Society's Stop MS Appeal. They need to raise £100 million over ten years to find treatments for everyone with MS, and need all the support they can get. With your readers' help, we can stop MS.

Readers can find out more at mssociety.org.uk/stop

Are you entitled to this allowance?

June Bennett, Benefit Answers, writes:

According to official figures 140,000 people over 65 are entitled to Attendance allowance but are not receiving payment. You could be one of those 140,000!

Attendance Allowance is not means-tested and is to help with disability-related daily living costs.

Benefitanswers are offering a FREE check to see if you could qualify for this Allowance.

If you are OVER 65 and would like further information, please ring 0330 223 4773 or email info@benefitanswers.co.uk

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