Recorder letters: Housing, BLM, children in pandemic and immigration rules

PUBLISHED: 12:30 26 July 2020

Cllr Gomez says homes are needed which give people space. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA

Cllr Gomez says homes are needed which give people space. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

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

We need quality homes not HMOs

Cllr Rosa Gomez, Churchfields ward, writes:

In response to those writing on the issue of the planning application put forward for Seven Kings recently.

Redbridge has seen a growth in homes of multiple occupancy (HMOs) over the last few years. These are houses converted into bedsits – a three bedroom house can become home to five or six people renting a room each with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities.

From casework I know that these homes, whilst profitable for landlords, can create community problems.

People living in them are in cramped conditions with little privacy. This is distressing and impacts on people’s emotional well-being.

Additionally the coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of personal space in being able to isolate and thus fight the disease.

HMOs, where individuals share space but do not share lives, make it difficult for this to happen.

The government recently announced changes to planning law, including the lifting of restrictions on permitted developments. Whilst we need more homes, we need good quality homes that give people space to live in and not more HMOs or similar properties.

I am deeply concerned that allowing disused commercial properties to be converted into dwellings will result in more people living in cramped, unsuitable conditions. This will impact on the health and well-being of our community for the worse.

I am pleased that Redbridge Council is working to counteract this, with Redbridge Living.

Wholly owned by the council, Redbridge Living seeks to build useful and affordable housing in the borough so that people can live here well. Through this and other initiatives, the council is implementing a programme of building to support local residents and make Redbridge a great place to be.

Working class must work in unity

Will Podmore, Clavering Road, Wanstead, writes:

The US police killing of George Floyd has provoked a huge response of anger and revulsion.

In this country, it has triggered lively debate and demands to address the issues for black people, especially the young, of police harassment (a daily experience for many), and widespread discrimination – open or tacit – in employment and elsewhere.

But some in the Black Lives Matter campaign have pushed false ideas of ‘white privilege’, looking to the history of imperialism to claim that the (mostly) white working class of Britain was guilty of benefiting from the ‘crumbs’ dropped from the tables of imperialists, particularly with regard to the vile crimes of the slave trade.

It goes without saying that the British Empire was imperialistic and did much harm. But the Empire (including the slave trade) was run and built by the capitalist class, and the working class suffered enormously under it.

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At the time, workers looked at the slavers and saw the same enemy they faced in the factories and in the countryside.

In the early industrial revolution, children as young as four or five were put to work in the mines. Working hours shot up, so much so that the Cotton Mills and Factories Act of 1819 had to limit working hours to 12 a day – but only for children between aged from nine to 16!

The response of the trade unions and the Chartists to imperialism and slavery was to recognise the unity of purpose of black slaves and British workers, that they faced the same enemy, and to organise for the emancipation of the whole working class.

Every worker here is part of the British working class. An injury to one is an injury to all.

We as a class must work in unity and take responsibility for the way Britain is being run and where it is heading. Together we must take control of our country, get involved and shape a future for the needs of us all.

We’re here to help vulnerable young

Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London, writes:

Barnardo’s is proud to be managing the See, Hear, Respond centre. Through our telephone referral service, we will refer any concerns about a vulnerable child raised to the local partner agency best-placed to help.

Support will include an online hub of information, online counselling and therapy, face-to-face support for those most affected and at risk of some of today’s most pertinent issues, such as criminal exploitation. There is also help for children and young people to reintegrate back into school.

The new service will see the collective of charities working alongside other community-based organisations, local authorities, schools, colleges, police forces and healthcare professionals - all pulling together to provide solutions to the challenges facing children and families that may have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The programme will focus on finding and reaching out to children around the country who are experiencing negative impacts on their health and wellbeing, as well as those at risk of harm.

Helplines are open from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday; 10am – 6pm at weekends. Readers can call 0800 157 7015 to make a referral or go to to find out more.

Immigration rules irresponsible

Dr Alison Moore AM, Londonwide Assembly Member, writes:

It’s concerning to see the home secretary rush through major immigration legislation lacking in detail.

The Covid-19 outbreak has opened-up a long-overdue debate over how we define ‘unskilled work’. The government’s decision to introduce a points system, but not specifically address this issue, is short-sighted and could put key services at risk.

The home secretary appears to confuse low-pay with low-skill – nothing could be further from the truth for our highly-skilled, but definitely under-paid, care staff.

The prime minister recently issued a call to ‘build, build, build’, but these new immigration proposals also leave us uncertain about whether we will be able to fill the gaps in our construction workforce.

The exclusion of our care workers from the new health and social care visa scheme is another irresponsible move and a blow to care homes, when there are thousands of vacancies in the workforce.

We were able to rebuild our nation in the wake of Second World War because of the wide-ranging contributions of those that came to our country from across the Commonwealth. As we face up to a deep recession, we must keep this crucial lesson from recent history in mind.

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