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Recorder letters: Phone parking, Langar, antisemitist meeting; cancer care at King George and Queen’s, Fairlop, Whipps Cross appointments, Wanstead Flats festival and Brexit

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 November 2018

Not everyone can pay to park by phone or credit card. Picture: SAM VOLPE

Not everyone can pay to park by phone or credit card. Picture: SAM VOLPE

Archant

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

Phone-only parking stops many visiting parks

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

In the national press on Saturday there was a report about councils around the country forcing residents, including the elderly, to make payments by electronic means.

Those councils refuse to accept cash or cheques. The report quotes charities accusing those councils of ignoring the preferences of older people and “airbrushing them out”. Not listed in the report is Redbridge Council but Redbridge is doing exactly the same.

It is not only many elderly people who are unfamiliar or uncertain about “new technology” and do not have computers, smart phones or other types of electronic communications instruments.

There are plenty of other people within the community who are afraid of modern technology and do not have such gadgets. As a consequence, all these people are being marginalised and treated like second-class citizens by these councils, including Redbridge.

I have been corresponding with Redbridge for many months (more correspondence from me to Redbridge than replies received) on behalf of Residents Association members who are in the position of not having the necessary technology to enable them to use the RingGo parking payment system in the borough’s parks and open spaces.

I have even suggested that such people can contact the council by phone or letter saying when they intend visiting a park or open space and offering to pay the correct tariff in cash but this was rejected out of hand.

Redbridge’s response was that you use the RingGo system or get served with a penalty notice or, it follows, don’t visit the parks and open spaces by car. I wonder how many borough residents can easily get to Hainault Country Park without a car?

Thus, not only is Redbridge marginalising people by insisting that they can only use the RingGo system, they are thereby effectively denying some people the use of publicly provided and funded facilities. Will the council be giving those people a refund on their council tax?

We don’t all have mobile phones

Rex Wellard, Manford Way, Chigwell, wrote to Cllr Jas Athwal:

Last week I had the need to attend the diabetic eye screening clinic at 201-205 Cranbrook Road, Ilford.

As in previous years I intended to park my car in Valentines Park and walk the 200 yards or so to the clinic and getting there at 2.30pm, I had plenty of time to do so, my appointment being at 2.50pm.

I was surprised to find that the cash machines had been removed and the means of payment necessitated the use of a mobile phone and credit card. I do not have the need for a mobile phone (I am 88 and my land phone suffices) and I did not have a credit card with me.

I had no time to find alternative parking so left my car there with a note of explanation.

The same parking arrangements exist in Hainault Country Park, Fairlop and other places within the borough – in fact, a deaf woman was writing this week in the Ilford Recorder stating that her inability to use a mobile phone barred her from these places.

This is what prompted me to write this letter.

I have lived in Redbridge for 61 years, mostly under a Conservative regime, and being a life-long socialist I was overjoyed when Labour won the majority.

However, I never expected such anti-social measures as those I have outlined which mainly affect the elderly.

Follow Sikhs’ Langar example

Gordon Moser, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

I have read in recent weeks with great interest in your newspaper about the amazing Sikh concept of Langar, as well as the tragic loss of some homeless people.

Langar is the concept of providing anybody who wishes to eat, a free and freshly cooked hot meal every single day. Whenever I am in the local area, I invariably pop in to the Ilford Gurdwara for a lunch.

I regularly see homeless people being cared for and they also want somebody to talk to, which is precisely what they get and without any prejudice.

I make a donation to the temple for my meals and also one to cover the costs for another person to eat a meal there.

It is not particularly expensive to maintain this generous gesture by our Sikh friends (as they have informed me), but as a Jewish person, I would urge all other denominations and none to learn from Langar and to please open their doors to the homeless and needy.

Anti-racist protest was not loutish

Ze’ev Gee, address supplied, writes:

Keith Hallam calls those of us who protested outside Ilford Library (October 4) “louts”. Your readers deserve the truth.

We were a group of Jewish anti-racists (including a previous Redbridge Mayor and non-Jewish supporters). It was quite clear from the pre-meeting publicity as well as from the identity of the two speakers that its purpose was to encourage the rejection of the widely accepted IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Those who oppose the definition want to be able to call Israel a rascist state without being labelled as antisemites.

But to deny Jews the right to state what is antisemitic is itself antisemic.

Anyone who attended that meeting and did not protest cannot call themselves an anti-racist.

It may be that we said that to him on his departure from the meeting. If we did, it’s hardly “loutish”.

It’s anti-racist – and if Mr Hallam had bothered to speak to us as he left, maybe he would understand why.

We’ll make cancer service even better

Dr Magda Smith, acting medical director, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, writes:

Further to the letter from Bob Archer and Andy Walker last week, I’m writing to explain our proposed changes and reassure patients about the quality of care at King George and Queen’s hospitals.

Both of our hospitals are central to the future care of patients from all of our boroughs.

We’re hugely proud of our transformation in cancer performance over the past two years. We’re offering cutting edge treatment – up there with the best in the NHS – to more patients, and with lower waiting times than before.

As cancer technology advances, our specialist nurses and medical staff are able to offer more complicated courses of treatment – with drugs and radiotherapy. Each is tailor-made for each patient, and it’s great news, as the quality of care and treatment is better than ever.

However, it means we have to use the main cancer suite at Queen’s Hospital more (often to access the specialist pharmacy) and very few patients are now seen at King George in the Cedar Suite.

However, the medical treatment is only part of the story.

Our patients and their families are going through an intensely difficult time.

They tell us how much they value the broader support outside of their treatment – such as psychological support, having someone to speak with, or alternative therapies. This is why we want to develop the Cedar Centre to provide those options – it’s often as important as the medical care.

We do provide a good cancer service, as Bob and Andy kindly pointed out. We intend to make our service even better, which is why we want to make these changes.

With regard to our emergency patients, we have carefully considered the best way to care for our patients.

These decisions include the best pathway of care for our patients as well as having enough patients who need the service to be able to provide it.

This service may be a little different at each site.

We have looked at the patients who would benefit most from an emergency ambulatory care unit at King George Hospital and have put the service in place for our older patients.

For younger patients the demand on the service is very low and, having considered this carefully, we are of the view that it isn’t the right option for King George.

All of our services at both hospital sites are available to all of our patients.

Council hazy over Fairlop land deal

Jenny Chalmers, chairman, Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, Spearpoint Gardens, Aldborough Hatch, writes:

Your readers will be aware that there is major concern in the community that an area of important nature conservation on Fairlop Waters Country Park is to be trashed.

We now have clear and irrefutable evidence, as the result of our inquiries, that under a previous administration a council officer ratified a deal with a gravel extraction company to change the boundary of Fairlop Waters Country Park so that they can build a haul road for gravel trucks to pass through.

Readers need to be aware that instead of going through open land – and having to spend money compensating the tenants and restoring the land afterwards – the developers have been given permission from Redbridge Council to dig up a beautiful corridor of wildlife, build a concrete scar through it and leave it there once they are finished excavating the gravel (whenever that might be!).

Those who go for a quiet walk in Fairlop Waters will not be listening to birds singing, but the roar of large trucks thundering through. Shame on Redbridge Council for allowing this to happen!

I can only ask why and who benefits? Some monetary gain, perhaps?

In this age when public organisations are supposed to be showing more transparency, information requested from the council is hazy and councillors are staying remarkably quiet.

The developers will obviously be saving money, but as usual it will be the residents councillors are supposed to be representing and the environment they are supposed to be protecting that will lose out.

Appointment chaos at Whipps

Trevor Wilding, Addison Road, Wanstead, writes:

Many patients are missing the appointments which they have waited several months for due to Whipps Cross Hospital sending them to the wrong treatment centres.

The hospital is sending texts to people, a few days in advance of an appointment, saying that they are expected on a certain date and time at Whipps Cross but the texts are giving incorrect information about building locations and many people are going to the wrong building and losing their appointments.

They must then book new appointments, which is increasing pressure on the health service and doctors.

I was the victim of this chaotic process in July when I received a text to say I was expected at Silverthorne, Whipps Cross at 10am for an appointment. I arrived at 9.45 and was told that there is no Silverthorne at Whipps Cross and that the building is in Chingford.

I showed the text to the receptionist and we both noticed that there was no postcode to tell people where to go. I then had a 40-minute journey to get to Chingford and was very lucky that the doctor took time to see me. The staff at Chingford said that patients are being sent to the wrong locations daily due to the lack of a postcode.

I made a formal complaint to Whipps Cross and after two weeks I was contacted by a senior communications manager who agreed with me that it was ludicrous not to put postcodes on texts and that she would ensure that all future texts sent to patients would include a postcode if they had to go to a location outside the main hospital.

In October I received another text from Whipps Cross saying again that I was expected at Whipps Cross, Silverthorne for a follow up appointment. Once again there was no postcode.

I made another formal complaint through the hospital’s system.

This is wasting taxpayers’ money and doctors’ time.

The chief executive is the one ultimately responsible for this fiasco and either needs to sort the issue out or step down.

We’re not fooled by festival plan

Kris Sangani, chairman, Aldersbrook and Lake House Community Association, writes:

If I were to describe the view of residents surrounding Wanstead Flats, it would be “anxious”.

In September, word had reached residents that a large festival company was planning to hold two massive music festivals – both would be the largest in London by far – bookending the summer of 2019 and that this would essentially render a large part of the park unusable by the community for most of a large part of the summer.

It would also mean that the unique flora and fauna – the Flats is designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and is home to nesting meadow pipits and skylarks which are two breeds in significant decline – would be further be put into jeopardy.

However, it soon emerged that the festival company, Mama & Co, had informed the City of London Corporation (CoLC), that it had “scaled back” its ambitions to hold just one large festival whose capacity would have been increased to up to 50,000.

Members of our community have been writing to members of the Epping Forest and Commons Committee of the CoLC to persuade them that any financial benefit achieved by holding these mammoth events would not be worth the jeopardy.

Because of our campaigning work, we have discovered that the plans have been put back to 2019 and would be held over three consecutive nights.

This is a common ruse. For example, say you are a property developer and want to build a 25-storey building – you apply for planning permission to build a 50-storey building knowing that the planning committee would push back and ask you to think again.

You then reapply with a building that is just 25 storeys in height. It looks like you have compromised. Instead you have fooled everyone. But in this case, you have fooled no one in Redbridge and this changes nothing as far as our opposition and campaigning against these proposals.

Anyone who is concerned and want to know more about our campaign can get campaign updates by visiting aldersbrookandlakehouse.org and subscribing.

We need People’s Vote on Brexit

Richard Newcombe, Wanstead, full address supplied, writes:

On Saturday, October 20 an estimated 700,000 people marched in central London calling for a People’s Vote on any Brexit deal that is agreed between the government and the European Union.

This was the second largest demonstration this century and showed the growing acceptance that with all the information we have gained since the referendum in 2016 it is only right that the people should decide.

With both major parties split on the issue another general election would only cause confusion possibly just shifting the focus.

The outcome of the next six months will affect the opportunities and prosperity of future generations in this country and it is important that the right decision is made.

We all must be given the chance to make a final decision now that we can see the deal that is on the table. For some it may or may not be the Brexit they wanted, for others it would be better if we remain in the EU.

Waltham Forest Council voted to support a People’s Vote with the right to choose to Remain on the ballot paper. I hope that Redbridge Council will do the same in the near future.

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