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Recorder letters: Kenneth More Theatre, markets, knife arches, wheelie bins and cultural hub

PUBLISHED: 10:30 28 March 2019

The company that manges Kenneth More Theatre says it cannot afford to contiue. Photo: PAUL BENNETT

The company that manges Kenneth More Theatre says it cannot afford to contiue. Photo: PAUL BENNETT

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

Council should help fund theatre

Ken Gaunt, Greenslade Road, Barking, writes:

Like many of the patrons of the Kenneth More Theatre I was very sad to hear that the KMT will cease and that no more programmes are lined up after their season in July.

What is wrong with Redbridge Council to stop helping and funding such an important part of its community after 45 years? Tell me what Ilford has to offer?

Maybe they should be looking at the run down high street and the ridiculous parking restrictions in Ilford...

The KMT has been a very important part of the community being used by all races and cultures. It is a stepping stone for many young actors starting out in their acting career, many have gone on to appear in West End productions.

The shows were definitely West End material at over a quarter of the price. It is not only a theatre but is also like a social club to meet up over a drink at the bar and a great show to follow.

The KMT was used for many young budding actors, schools and special needs schools, to show of their acting ability. It is also used for the Jack Petchey Foundation for young people across east London for over 200 schools and for guides and scouts throughout the surrounding area. Come on everyone let’s rally round and show the council what they’ll be missing and show your support.

KMT should be saved at all costs

Paul Scott, Sandhurst Drive, Ilford, writes:

I believe that the Kenneth More Theatre, which has served our community well since 1975, should be saved at all costs for the benefit of Ilford town centre and surrounding areas.

It provides a good range of entertainment in a well placed location near the cinema which is also an integral part of the borough’s cultural offer. There ought to be a campaign set up to save the theatre for future generations to enjoy. It makes more sense to have this type of place within Ilford rather than any more flats that we have enough of already.

The Kenneth More Theatre still remains one of the positive aspects in the London Borough of Redbridge which is as important as any library, museum, art gallery or open public parks are to local residents here.

Don’t waste council tax on markets

David Stephens, chairman, Seven Kings and Newbury Park Residents Association, writes:

The council held a consultation event on Saturday, March 23 at St Peter’s Church Hall to show off its plans to have three wholesale food markets relocated to a green belt site on Fairlop Plain. It is seeking to persuade the City of London Corporation to relocate Smithfield, Spitalfields and Billingsgate markets to Redbridge.

My first question to the organisers was how they could justify building on the green belt when the Local Plan was only adopted in 2018 and there had never been any suggestion that the Fairlop Plain site would have any designation other than green belt.

The answer was that the council would argue that the market development would be a special circumstance which would justify changing the green belt designation. Thus, the council will be acting as both poacher and gamekeeper to push through its proposal, having no regard to the Local Plan.

I next asked why their display was saying that the City of London Corporation was looking for a site of more than 100 acres when the Corporation’s own consultation document says that its favoured location is a site of 42 acres in Barking which it has recently acquired.

The chairman of the Corporation’s Markets Committee is quoted as saying: “I’m delighted we have achieved this major site purchase as part of our vision for London and our market”.

The Redbridge representatives did not think this was significant and suggested that as the Corporation had not yet made a final decision it was right for Redbridge to make a bid to have the markets moved to Fairlop.

I question why the council is wasting precious resources in pursuing a scheme which Redbridge residents do not want.

The council has just increased the council tax – surely not to throw away on pipedreams such as this?

Clarifying my views on knife arches

Kash Mallick (writing as an individual)

I am aggrieved about the headline which I feel was taken out of context and I wish to put the record straight.

I proposed rather than install knife arches it would be better to reintroduce the community police officers that were ever present before the austerity measures.

I hypothesised a school without knife arches would have less incidents with knife crime outside the school, albeit, with a higher possibility inside school, whereas the school with an arch would result in more incidences outside the school, and less inside.

Nearly all serious incidences involving knives are outside the school.

I argued having knife arches in schools would normalise carrying knives and this acceptance by the council and government would mean, that it will be less likely for these institutions to reintroduce community police officers.

I said it would be better not having arches in schools as there will be more of a demand in the local community, to make the local authority employ more community police officers and as a result less children will be harmed compared to a school where there were knife arches.

Your survey asking parents what they thought of arches would have been more sincere if you also asked which would they prefer; more community police officers or knife arches? In fact, the same question could be asked from the children whether they would feel safer with knife arches in schools or with more police officers visible in the area?

I was brought up in East London in the early 70’s, when racists thugs beat up school children on the way home from school; we used to wait for the presence of a police officer in the street before we started walking to the bus stop 10 minutes’ away. I am sure that there are children in school who fear going home and would welcome more police presence as much as I did when I was young.

Every child’s life is precious, I have dedicated 31 years of my life to the education of young children and nothing is more important to me than their welfare and safety.

Thanks for making right decision on wheelie bins

Wilson Chowdhry, full address supplied, writes:

Many Ilford Recorder readers will remember how fervently I campaigned for the introdction of a wheelie bin waste collection system in Redbridge starting 12 years ago. My five year campaign ended when at a cabinet meeting it was decided that the general cleansing team would begin the gradual upgrading of their waste collection vehicles to dual purpose ones for a potential change to the preferred waste collection system.

So it is with great joy that I hear about the pilot wheelie bin system is to be adopted in Redbridge after so many years. The campaign was worth it after all.

There are still questions that remain and I hope they will be addressed should the pilot lead to the eventual adoption of this sytem across the borough.

Firstly, it is essential that any recycling wheelie bin collection includes businesses so that our borough’s shameful outdated practice of ignoring such waste is remedied.

Moreover, it is essential that the system caters for wheelie bin collection from flats above shops to eradicate the rat-infestation that black bag collections have created on many secondary high streets such as Green Lane. A practical solution shold be found with regards to where such bins will be located perhaps using a smaller variant that can wheeled into homes - to make this possible.

There is proven data to suggest that recycling increases and a lessening of street litter occurs in communities with a wheelie bin waste collection. So on that note thank you Redbridge for finally making the right decision.

How will ‘cultural hub’ be funded?

Terry Sykes, Trinity Road, Barkingside, writes:

Like many others in Redbridge, I was shocked and saddened when I heard the news about our wonderful Kenneth More Theatre.

The theatre opened at about the time I moved into the borough, 43 years ago. I have been a frequent visitor to the theatre during that time and have seen a great number of performances, all of which have been enjoyable, and many would easily have been able to compete with a West End show in terms of quality and professional standard.

One of the most important features of the theatre’s functions is that, during those years, it has provided a platform for local amateur dramatic societies and singing and dancing schools to perform in public and show off their talent and skill. And much of the talent I have seen has been outstanding; it has been a great pleasure to see those groups perform, not for monetary advantage but for the sheer love of it.

The theatre has also developed into a community for many people, creating a sense of camaraderie for all the frequent theatregoers and allthose who work there be they staff or volunteers. That feeling has certainly enhanced my long association with the venue and made it much more enjoyable.

The KMT is the only ‘proper’ theatre we have in the borough and it has been an arts centre that we should all be proud of.

Redbridge Council should also hold the KMT in high esteem and be proud of its past. I am certain that it is not beyond the wit of the council to have come up with a solution to the problem of funding.

In last week’s Recorder article Jas Athwal is quoted as saying “Our vision for the coming years is to bring forward a leisure and cultural hub on this site and in the meantime, we will work to ensure the community are able to access the theatre as a performance venue.”

I wonder how the council proposes to fund that! And what is there to show that it will be run any better? The Redbridge Theatre Company have made a good job of it during the last 40 plus years: it was the complete withdrawal of the funding by the council that has created this difficultly. Given that Redbridge Council owns the KMT building, it should have done more to keep it going in its original form.

It will be a sorry day indeed when the lights go out at the KMT, the theatre that so many people have loved and supported for so long!

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