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Recorder letters: Bodgers, cab tax, Wanstead Park and minimum wage

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 March 2018

Bodgers last days. Picture: ELLENA CRUSE

Bodgers last days. Picture: ELLENA CRUSE

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

Farewell to real department store

G Corfield, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

In view of the fact that only one letter was published last week on the closure of Bodgers, I felt I had to write in.

It was with deep sadness that we in our family heard of this loss to the once great regional shopping centre of Ilford.

Bodgers was the last remaining department store that was here when Ilford was the largest retail centre in north east London.

Ilford’s dominance lasted from the 1890s to the mid 1970s and its latter decline is wholly connected to the closure of Bodgers.

After trading for 127 years they finally closed their doors at the end of February.

It was a proper department store in the full sense of the word, selling at various times everything and anything from toys at Christmas to beds, curtains and kitchen equipment from China and glass to clothes.

The staff were always kind and helpful not minding how much trouble they took to find some obscure item one might ask for.

It was almost tragic to see how upset the staff were at the end and our hearts go out them. My family and I along with many, many others I am sure hope that where they wanted to, they found places at other stores in the group.

We will miss Bodgers.

Bodgers site solid gold real estate

Martyn Lee, Cranley Road, Ilford, writes:

Paul Scott, writing in last week’s recorder (Don’t lose Bodgers site heritage) makes a passionate case for maintaining Ilford’s community spirit, but he does not seem to have kept up with current events.

Every council in London is under the most intense pressure to create more and more ‘high density housing’, and the fact that the Bodgers store is situated directly opposite Ilford Station, one of the principal hubs for Crossrail, makes this particular plot of land solid gold real estate.

Given that some form of residential development will therefore inevitably be built on the site, Redbridge Council should insist that approval of planning permission will be granted only if the developer pledges to provide a minimum of 40per cent of affordable housing.

However, I think this is a forlorn hope: Crossrail’s website states, “Crossrail has also been working with the London Borough of Redbridge on proposals for improvements to the area around the station”. What are the odds that these “improvements” will include luxury apartments that only well-off city types or foreign investors will be able to afford?

Cabs victory but more work to do

Keith Prince, Conservative London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge, writes:

The government’s announcement of a Vehicle Excise Duty exemption for black cab drivers was an important victory for the industry and all of us who campaigned on its behalf.

Having visited the treasury in February to lobby on that very issue, I was particularly pleased to see the government listening to those of us who raised concerns and the decision will have a dramatic impact in enabling drivers to more easily switch to zero-emissions vehicles.

But whilst this news is rightly being celebrated, it is important that we do not rest on our laurels. London’s iconic taxi trade, and the hard-working drivers that serve our city on a daily basis, are under serious threat.

The Mayor of London made some bold promises to help before he was elected but his latest transport strategy falls well short of meeting those promises.

Along with the general secretary of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association, Steve McNamara, I am calling on Sadiq Khan to take urgent action. This includes increasing the number of cab ranks in the city from 500 to 600, opening up more bus lanes to taxi drivers on specific routes and meeting targets on rapid electric charging infrastructure to help facilitate the move to electric cabs.

The government has listened to the taxi trade and has taken crucial action. Now the mayor needs to do his bit and ensure our black cabs have a positive future in London.

Future brighter for Wanstead Park

Paul Donovan, Dangan Road, Wanstead, writes:

It’s difficult not to smile about the news that new measures now have to be taken to avoid flooding from the lakes in Wanstead Park.

After all, the concern of most visiting the park over recent years has been the lack of water in the lakes, not a surplus.

That said, the park’s custodian, the Corporation of London, does now have to act to ensure safeguards are taken regarding the flood risk, particularly relating to the Heronry, Perch and Ornamental lakes.

These are classified as high risk raised reservoirs. The various actions required come under statutory obligation and have to be completed in three years. The cost could come in over £10million. Failure to act, though, will see fines imposed by the Environment Agency.

It must be hoped that application for Heritage lottery funding will run alongside this work. These funds will be used for the non-statutory work.

At last, it looks as though some of the outstanding issues of the park could now be addressed. The Parkland Plan looks, impressive, almost amounting to a wish list of things that would help to improve the park.

The Corporation of London though still need pushing on real plans for action – particularly relating to the non-statutory work.

Firms can’t afford minimum wage

Mr A Still, York Road, Ilford, writes:

Just been into Debenhams at Ilford, great store on three floors but, hardly any staff.

Reason? This minimum wage rule fad.

I’m 84, when I left school there were lots of jobs. I chose to work in a department store, it was very enjoyable. I felt I belonged. Low wages but we were all working.

Now, lots of youngsters could work for £5-£6 per hour and enjoy it. The variety of work available and skills become highly honed but firms can’t afford this £9.50 an hour wage.

Even if you’re an adult you are not allowed to work for less than the minimum wage (unless you are some poor illegal immigrant). That’s why the left rarely get elected.

A country’s greatest asset is its people.


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