Recorder letters: Private renters, Wanstead Market, building works, post virus-Britain and Tesco Toxic Towers

PUBLISHED: 12:30 19 April 2020

The London Assembly is concerned about private renters post corinavirus. Picture: PA IMAGES

The London Assembly is concerned about private renters post corinavirus. Picture: PA IMAGES

PA Archive/PA Images

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

Prevent autumn of evictions

Alison Moore AM, London, writes:

With a quarter of Londoners living in the private rented sector, we need to see stronger protections put in place over the coming months.

It has been welcome to see that the government have announced that all court proceedings relating to housing possession should be suspended for 90 days. However, many Londoners are asking what will happen after this period. A significant number of renters have already fallen into hardship and are unable to cover the costs of living.

It is inevitable that leaving tenants to negotiate the repayment of any rent arrears with their landlords and agencies, without adequate support, will lead to widespread cases of unfair and unregulated disputes.

To prevent this, the chancellor should proportionately increase local housing allowance and statutory sick pay to cover average London rents. We must also see an end to the five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments.

If we continue to kick the can down the road, we could sadly be facing a flood of evictions in the Autumn. Let’s stop that happening.

Time for council to get a grip

Ashley Gunstock, lead spokesperson, Redbridge Green Party, writes:

What in God’s name was Redbridge Council playing at in allowing the Wanstead First Sunday of the Month Market to continue? And why did it take the outcry of residents before it decided to put a halt to the continuation of this public event?

I am certainly no supporter of Boris Johnson and his government. But I feel that they, albeit belatedly, have somewhat got their act together.

During this epidemic, we have seen some of the most wonderful, humanitarian and totally selfless actions displayed by front-line workers and many members of the public. However, we are also witnessing the most selfish, idiotic and irresponsible behaviour of too many individuals and groups which almost undoes all the good work.

Therefore, rather than pandering to the few and then having to be meekly reactive, it is up to our local authorities to be sensibly proactive and order those who are putting vulnerable people (as well as themselves) in danger to toe the line, to help alleviate rather than exacerbate the problems we face.

Regardless of political persuasion, I suggest our Labour-run local administration takes a leaf out of its newly elected leader’s book and gets behind the government’s public health measures.

In other words: Redbridge Council, get a grip!

High-density not the way to go

Paul Scott, Arundel Gardens, Ilford, writes:

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They should halt major building works until the coronavirus crisis is over – for public health reasons.

There also ought to be a change in the amount of high-density housing being built, for public health reasons. After all, this virus seems to be affecting Greater London at a higher rate than other parts of the country. Greater London also has the highest residential density in the UK.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, which has a massive amount of tower blocks and therefore a high population density too. We should use public health as an objective in present and future campaigns against such schemes.

This coronavirus pandemic ought to make planners, whether private or public, and all councils more fully aware about the overall impact of constructing this amount of residential development in fairly confined spaces.

A five-year plan to forge a better life

Will Podmore, Clavering Road, Wanstead, writes:

Yes, there is an economic crisis as well as the health and social crisis. But the politics of despair will get us nowhere. Instead, people need to get to grips with the financial issues.

A future post-virus Britain must not go back to business as usual. People are already asking questions about a shortfall in industrial self-sufficiency and why there are long supply chains. We should think as well about less obvious changes – otherwise the momentum to take the opportunities offered by Brexit may evaporate. A new outlook must prevail where working people look closely at public finance to understand how it can be applied to develop a cohesive social and economic system free from the EU.

What will be vital is clear, co-ordinated planning. Regionalism and petty separatism are hinderances.

Britain doesn’t need doom-mongering. It needs a five-year plan. Five-year planning with quarterly and annual adjustments works best.

The approach enables economists to measure the value created by those who work. It also aids the introduction of year on year improvements in production, distribution and exchange within each sector. To do this requires money each year being invested in capital goods (eg plant and machinery) rather than money-printing to purchase consumption goods or used for idle speculation.

By adopting this balanced approach our labour productivity and with it our standard of living will improve (or should improve if working people lay their hands on the surplus value they create). Planning in this way also helps to mitigate some of the detrimental effects of market forces and promote economic self-sufficiency rather than global reliance.

We need to see air quality reports

Bob Archer - Redbridge TUC, Philip Barker, Paul Scott and Andy Walker, full contact details supplied, write:

Keith Stanbury asked questions of us last week, regarding the proposed “Tesco Toxic Towers” development, with regard to 1) “substantial additional traffic pollution”; 2) what are the “series of measures” that Redbridge Council are taking to mitigate air pollution near schools.

We refer to the “Redbridge Council air quality action plan 2020-2025” which at page 21 states developments “be at least air quality neutral and not lead to further deterioration of existing air quality”.

The plan lists 34 measures to reduce air pollution, listing road closures and anti-idling campaigns to minimise the damage to child health from traffic pollution.

The threat to child health is already substantial in the area. Redbridge Council air quality report of July 2019 lists Chadwell Primary, close to the Tesco site, as being one of the worst-polluted schools in the borough.

Keith writes that he does not have the results of the schools air quality monitoring commissioned by Tesco’s as part of the application. These documents need to be published to quantify how substantial the threat to health by the proposed Tesco’s Toxic Towers is.

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