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Recorder letters: KMT, parking meters, credit, Ilford High Road and MPs

PUBLISHED: 08:30 09 September 2017

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Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal says the authority is working with Kenneth More Theatre management to find lease arrangements that will ensure its viability.

We’re not planning to close KMT

Cllr Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge Council, writes:

Following a letter to the editor by Conservative Councillor Joyce Ryan in the Ilford Recorder last week, let me assure you that my Labour administration has NO plans to close the KMT.

Cllr Ryan enjoys spreading fear to residents without explaining circumstances and reasons why decisions are made. Negotiations with the KMT have taken some time, and we are very close to finding a suitable arrangement which will go to cabinet in the coming months.

Cllr Ryan is very vocal about the arts in Redbridge; and rightly so. Labour is a big supporter of the arts; and we are passionate about encouraging and building our culture and identity in this great borough.

The central government run by Cllr Ryan’s Conservative friends have cut our local council budget meaning we need to save around £42.6million over the next five years. These unprecedented cuts are producing significant pressures on the council, meaning we are having to decide whether we provide support to the theatre company or whether we support our most vulnerable people like our children and elderly.

The council has historically provided both company secretary support and financial management support to the KMT. This has been both time consuming for council officers above their assigned duties; and additionally could have been seen as a conflict of interest between council and the board.

I would like to point out that the original lease expired in 2010, whilst Cllr Ryan and her Conservative administration were controlling the council – they failed to negotiate a lease.

Our team have been in considerable negotiations with the KMT chairperson and management team to find lease arrangements that will see the continued viability of the KMT and fits with the council’s plans for Ilford town regeneration.

The continued success of the KMT relies on it being able to be financially stable on its own; and I want to see this continued success in whatever form the board sees is the best.

Councillor Ryan needs to be considerate of the way “times have changed” and that in the current economic climate we need to all work together to ensure our arts and culture offer can continue to thrive.

Once again, I thank you for raising your concerns – I have recently become a member of the theatre; and I would encourage you to become a member too to help ensure its continued success - kmtheatre.co.uk

Too many parking meters not working

Gurpreet Bhatia, Barking, full address supplied, writes:

Redbridge Council needs to be applauded for the introduction of the 30 min free parking scheme in many parts of the borough where there are shopping parades to help invigorate and keep a vibrant shopping community in the borough.

However, after the initial capital investment in parking meters to facilitate access to free parking and longer I’ve seen not seen much investment in their further upkeep and maintenance.

As a weekly shopper in the Ilford Lane area I’ve seen many out of order meters, either due to software issues or more substantial physical damage, many in that state for multiple weeks.

The reporting of such problems should, I hope, be on a daily basis via the patrolling council civil enforcement officers and then rectified as soon as possible.

The prolonged out of order meters, especially in popular shopping hotspots, will inevitably drive away customers like me to more shopper-friendly and accommodating shopping areas.

Councillors do not deserve the credit

Scott Wilding, chairman of Wanstead Society, and Stephen Wilks, chairman of Safer Neighbourhoods War Panel Wanstead, write:

I was pleased to read that Labour MP John Cryer thought that Labour-run Redbridge Council was imposing an unpopular parking scheme on Wanstead, which thanks to local residents and councillors has been significantly scaled back.

I was, however, a bit surprised that John thought that Cllrs Bain and Merry had played a part in this.

Both (Labour) councillors voted through the proposal in its original form and as a resident of 35 years in Wanstead I didn’t see either of them collecting signatures and canvassing the public to repeal this decision.

Fifty-seven per cent of people voted against pay and display in the High Street – yet this council, unlike its predecessor, will not listen to the public and will impose pay and display on local businesses.

This is hardly the “listening council” – or if it is, it is deaf to the concerns of Wanstead residents.

I despair over state of Ilford

Mr A Still, York Road, Ilford, writes:

Bravo Mrs J Robinson!

Ilford is making great progress in becoming a dump. The stalls in the old High Road, selling what are basically very poor quality goods. Rubbish all over the road and yet more flats.

I wish Debenhams would move to Bodgers but they won’t.

Please can Mrs Robinson be given a job telling the council leaders how to run a town? And could M&S try a bit harder to look interested? Losing the restaurant has killed them – barmy. Plus we have a beggars’ paradise. I despair!

Our MPs fighting the good fight

Cllr Barbara White, Goodmayes, writes:

I was pleased to see a recent edition of the Recorder covering the ridiculous and unpopular move of the South Woodford Delivery Office to Chingford.

I was equally pleased to see our two Labour MPs, Wes Streeting and Mike Gapes in the supporting photograph. They both work very hard for their constituents and that should always be recognised.

Mike Gapes has been a local champion for over two decades.

I don’t know how many of you know but Mike’s father was a postman so he has a keener interest in this than most.

Something else that you might not know is that a special party was thrown for Mike the other week to celebrate his 25 years as an MP for Ilford South. It was a splendid affair with food, drink, music and much reminiscing plus the biggest cake I have ever seen presented by Kingdom Solicitors.

Mike, Wes, please keep fighting the good fight and I’m sure you will.


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