Recorder letters: Disabled driving, Faces nightclub, anti-Semitism and gravel

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 October 2017

Faces and St Georgio Hotel have been bought by the council. Picture: KEN MEARS

Faces and St Georgio Hotel have been bought by the council. Picture: KEN MEARS


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

Be lenient on drivers of disabled

Mark Prouse, full address supplied, writes:

As a totally blind person who has lived in the borough for many years, I am writing to express my appreciation of the unique Redbridge Transport service for disabled people, and its being retained by the council last year after a review.

However, I would also like to bring attention to an issue that currently often prevents it being quite as helpful as it could be.

Vehicles have easy steps to enable physically disabled people to board, and tail-lifts for wheelchair-users. Drivers are also specifically trained in a way that mostly enables confident travel. But despite this, sometimes they are unable to complete the task for clients as they would wish, and are only able to do so in a way that can leave users feeling they have had less than the tailored service the council intends to fund.

One particular value of the service for blind and partially-sighted people is guidance from the vehicle directly to the final destination, often not offered by operators of other forms of transport.

However, Redbridge Transport drivers are increasingly so concerned about traffic penalties inflicted even while they show someone to the entrance to a hospital or café, for instance, that all they can risk is helping a passenger to disembark safely from the bus.

In recent months, this has left me wandering around the grounds of two different hospitals looking for the entrance on more than one occasion, and walking up and down literally trying to sniff out the café I had booked my ride to, this latter also in a couple of different locations.

I understand that if a fine is inflicted, it is the driver’s responsibility either to appeal or pay it and successful appeals are apparently rare. Payment of a £65 penalty will largely cancel out a driver’s net pay for the day.

I think it is for the relevant council departments to work out between themselves precisely how they might apply some leniency in these circumstances, but appropriate instructions to its own traffic wardens, and to staff responsible for reviewing evidence from cameras, feel like sensible initial suggestions.

I applaud purchase of Faces building

Gurpreet Bhatia, Barking, full address supplied, writes:

It was with admiration that I read that Redbridge Council was buying a string of properties off the Gants Hill roundabout on Cranbrook Road including Faces nightclub and the St Georgio hotel amongst others, and would be ploughing all rental profits back into helping with their statutory housing provision responsibilities for the boroughs displaced.

I wholeheartedly applaud this council decision especially during times of cutbacks from City Hall and urge the council to further review assets and resources at its disposal to generate supplemental revenue streams for the borough’s growth.

The fact that the council has adopted a more proactive and venture-like approach to self-generating further funds speaks positive volumes for its financial management of the borough’s coffers.

Jews not the only target for hatred

Diana Neslen, committee member of Jewish Voice for Labour, writes:

John Cryer in his View from the House last week highlights what he sees as the “rebirth of anti-Semitism”.

He believes that anti-Semitism was not a problem in the last decades of the 20th century because of memories of, and education about, the Holocaust.

I am afraid I need to disabuse him of that view because at the end of the 20th century a member of my (Jewish) family was a victim of a BNP thug who was jailed for his crime.

But the explosion in social media has been the trigger for a steady torrent of abuse, some addressed to Jews, yes, but also to women in public life, to people with disabilities, to Muslims, to black and ethnic minorities and to the LGBT community.

This, sadly, is a product of social media and Jews are not by any stretch of the imagination the only group victimised. It was the same in the Holocaust, not only were Jews targets but so too were Roma and Sinti people, people with disabilities and gay men.

Surely if the events of the Second World War taught us anything, it is that we should stand against racism, exclusion, abuse and oppression whoever the victim.

By implying that Jewish people are disproportionately the victims of abuse now, it is possible to encourage resentment among those whose abuse is overlooked and paradoxically, wrongly in my view, to promote the very antagonism that Mr Cryer rails against.

Questions over gravel permission

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

I read with interest Ron Jeffries’ letter in last week’s Recorder, about the proposed gravel extraction at Aldborough Hatch and commenting upon the ignored evidence when the planning application was determined.

Firstly, if Redbridge Council owns the freehold of the land involved and also collects royalty payments from the gravel extracted, one wonders whether it was proper for Redbridge to consider and determine the application. Shouldn’t the application have been referred to the Mayor of London instead?

After the planning committee had approved the planning application, at a forum held at William Torbitt School, the public were told that the matter wasn’t finalised because a councillor had referred the issue to the secretary of state. But this was a nonsense since it was not in compliance with the statutory procedure for reversing a planning permission. It is no wonder that the secretary of state said he couldn’t deal with the matter.

Once approved, planning permission grants development rights in the land. The local planning authority has no power simply to withdraw a permission unilaterally without the payment of compensation. In England a local planning authority has the power to revoke planning permission under section 97 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).

There are procedures to be followed but it is the local authority which decides to revoke a planning permission and then formally refer that proposed revocation to the secretary of state for him to decide whether or not to approve such a revocation. Redbridge did not follow this procedure.

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