Recorder letters: Redbridge referendum, wheelie bins and parking fines

PUBLISHED: 12:30 19 January 2020

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting is against a petition calling for a referendum on council decision making. Picture: LABOUR PARTY

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting is against a petition calling for a referendum on council decision making. Picture: LABOUR PARTY


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

Costly referendum has no merit

Tanweer Khan, Dawlish Drive, lford, writes:

The gist of your articles on the proposed referendum on how Redbridge Council is governed is that that this is a non-political resident-led campaign - which would, of course, be admirable.

However, I note that this petition is being championed by a Hainault resident called Cheryll Gardiner and I believe this could be politically motivated.

If this is the case I think it would be totally disingenuous to refer to this as a non-political resident-led campaign, and instead, it should be labelled as a clearly politically motivated campaign.

That all said, does Ms Gardiner really think the residents of Redbridge want another referendum, and does she really want the council to waste £200,000 of taxpayers money which could be better used elsewhere?

I appreciate that as the opposition party in Redbridge Council, it is the duty of the Conservatives to hold the Labour administration to account - but this is just a cynical attempt to manufacture a problem when no such problem exists.

Residents are given the chance to elect the council every four years and if they are unhappy

with the way it works, they can make their feelings known at the ballot box.

Currently, Labour enjoys a huge majority in the council, and such a petition/referendum would not make any real difference to the way the council is run. If it was a minority Labour administration, a hung council or perhaps even an administration with a slim majority, then yes, perhaps one could argue that such a petition may have some merit.

But when you are talking about 51 Labour councillors versus 12 Conservatives, I fail to see what real change this petition will achieve, as all the proposed committees will likely be massively dominated by Labour anyway.

Hence, I am really hoping that Ms Gardiner will reconsider this ill-thought out scheme, as it changes very little with respect to how the council is run.

Referendum bid has no benefit

Wes Streeting MP, Ilford North, writes:

Redbridge Council needs to get better at engaging with local residents, but I'm afraid that Cheryll Gardiner's well-intentioned petition calling for the council to change its decision-making structures isn't the right answer.

Not only would a referendum cost our cash-strapped council money it doesn't have, the only difference it would make would be to change the cast of faces around the table. There's no evidence to suggest that the decisions made would be any different or better.

You may also want to watch:

Conservative councillors, understandably frustrated by the experience of opposition, are kidding themselves if they think they'll get more power.

They'll have to win the next local election if they want to do that. The same applies to my Party in Westminster.

For the last 10 years Redbridge Council has gone through an unprecedented period of cuts from central government. They've had to take hard decisions.

Looking to the future, the council has bold plans. They need to make sure they're taking residents with them.

A new committee structure won't solve that problem; only better quality conversations with residents can do that.

Wheelie bins ugly and unnecessary

Ken Champion, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

I'm wondering what criteria is being used for the wheelie bin trial for some areas of Redbridge.

The Recorder mentions that people feel they may find them "helpful." What does this mean? That wheel-less waste bins in their back gardens are too heavy to carry though the house? The bins are forever in front gardens, anyway. The problem is the size of wheelie bins. They will, of course, be considerably more expensive for the council than the present smaller - and adequate - containers. I walk around London a lot, and in all areas where wheelie bins are used they blight the place, especially in front of multi-occupied houses and in small front gardens. Imagine what they will look like outside the Victorian cottages in Wanstead Village and stuck 24/7 outside the bungalows in the Mayfield conservation area.

I don't think I need elaborate. They are unnecessary, ugly; an aesthetic affront.Redbridge is one of London's greenest boroughs. Let's not detract from that.

Parking fine firms need investigating

Terry Sykes, Trinity Road, Barkingside, writes:

Further to B Yerli's letter about the private parking schemes in Redbridge relating to his visit to Burger King on the Eastern Avenue. This situation does not apply only to Redbridge; it has become a national scourge.

Car parks and all sorts of commercial and retail outlets, as well as other centres such as hospitals, are controlled by private companies, without any particular regulation. The position is not the same as a properly empowered employee of a local authority issuing a parking penalty notice.

Private car parking companies operate on the basis that drivers who enter a car park which the company controls, have agreed to the terms and conditions set out on signs displayed on the car park, whether or not drivers have actually read those signs (they are not always prominently displayed). On that basis, drivers are deemed to have entered into a contract.

If a "breach" of those terms is detected a fine is issued. If not paid the only way those companies can seek to pursue the driver for payment is to apply to the DVLA, the government body that keeps a list of contract details for all registered vehicle owners. The DVLA charges an administration fee of £2.50 for each disclosure it makes to car parking companies and are supposed to have a stringent system in place to check the bona fides of such companies before making the requested disclosure. Press reports over the last few years have indicated that millions of such disclosures have been made by the DVLA.

It seems to be an anomaly that private companies are able to set their own fines for alleged breaches of their terms and conditions and are then free to pursue those who do not pay, aided and abetted by a government body, and the organisations that employ the car parking companies.

It is high time that an investigation is carried out to enquire into this situation and to look at how private companies are using these tactics to extract money from drivers, when no proper regulation seems to be in place to hold these companies to account.

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