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Recorder letters: The Valentine, Oakfield Playing Fields, Ilford town centre and D-Day veterans

PUBLISHED: 09:00 25 February 2017

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BBC 1’s The One Show filmed at The Valentine. Picture: KEN MEARS

Ilford needs to retain its good pubs

Paul Scott, Sandhurst Drive, Ilford, writes:

I have been informed that The Valentine public house in Gants Hill has closed down and there are plans for the building to be converted into flats, which would be totally wrong considering that it is a locally historic building that has architectural, as well as great cultural, importance.

The customers and other interested parties should try to make the pub an asset of community value like The Roundhouse in Dagenham [which was done] very successfully.

I have already spoken to Alan Barker at the South West Essex Camra group and he believes that it needs to be saved too.

I think that the place ought to remain there because it has been a generally decent bar which has lasted for many years within the neighbourhood with different owners, especially at a time when Ilford needs to retain the good public house venues it has managed to hold on to despite the other ones that have closed down over the years.

Council must bow to public opinion over Oakfields

Howard Berlin and Chris Nutt, trustees of Save Oakfield Society, write:

Last Thursday at City Hall we attended a brilliant seminar on the importance of the London green belt which was organised by Nicky Gavron on behalf of the GLA planning committee.

In her keynote address she stated that “the London Mayor wants to make the green belt an asset for Londoners” and that this will be confirmed in the new London Plan.

This poses the question of how come Redbridge Council are trying to sell off established sustainable green belt in Redbridge and why Redbridge Council’s views are totally opposite to both the London Mayor and our government’s commitment to protect our green belt which includes Oakfield Playing Fields?

Speaker after speaker advised that London’s green belt was vital to the future of London and Alice Roberts from CPRE stated that “development on the green belt will not solve housing problems”.

In fact speakers went further by advising that development on green belt will create new problems. It was also explained by various speakers that London has enough land to build houses to fully meet our housing requirements without touching any of our valued green open spaces.

We are sad to report that the only representatives from Redbridge was from the Save Oakfield Society and Ilford Noise, whose representative spoke eloquently against over-development (tall buildings) in Ilford town centre.

Is it too much to expect our council leader to attend or to expect a senior council officer dealing with our Local Plan to attend? Had they done so they would have heard much disdain from experts when advised of Redbridge Council’s plans to declassify Oakfield’s green belt status using the absurd reason of a 1902 constructed railway line which adjoins Oakfield!

Delegates and speakers could not believe that Redbridge Council have managed to obtain a review which fails to use the words “urban sprawl” in the entire report. Preventing “urban sprawl” is the key reason why we have our precious green belt.

So we say this to our administration. It is time now to accept what the government, your London Mayor, your local MP and above all your community are saying loudly to you in that Redbridge must retain its valued and precious green belt and this means keeping Oakfield as the best playing fields in our borough for future generations to nurture and enjoy.

Ilford town centre lacks fresh ideas

Alice Charles, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

I agree with Cllr Clive Power that Ilford town centre has suffered from a lack of attention.

What’s really needed is some fresh blood in the council – and some new ideas.

Areas such as Shoreditch have experienced a massive regeneration, thanks to its creative community. It is a tried-and-tested formula the world over.

Major cities around the world such as New York, Baltimore, Rio de Janeiro and Berlin have all witnessed a resurgence that can be largely credited to artists, designers, filmmakers and the like. Why doesn’t Ilford follow suit?

For example, the council could offer free or heavily discounted “pop-up” space to up-and-coming fashion designers, host a contest for art and design students at local colleges for mural designs, or offer an award for the best short film shot in Ilford.

And what about getting the Kenneth More Theatre to engage more with the local community with a series of short “lunch-time” plays by new writers performed in the open in Valentines Park or even on the High Road?

How can we hurry the regeneration?

Clive Power, Aldersbrook Road, Wanstead, writes:

I agree with some of Rosalind Bader’s points in last week’s Recorder in response to my letter.

Ilford certainly needs investment yet “the same, but better” will mean it keeps losing. Making the town the biggest Asian shopping area was just one of my suggestions to make Ilford stand out.

I also think that Ilford Lane roundabout, as well as the flyovers near the police station and over the North Circular, are barriers that put off people. It’s a pleasant walk, and without barriers, from the station to Valentines Park along Cranbrook Road. More routes in Ilford could work like that.

I’d agree less with the Ilford Manifesto article. Its eight promises include “We will write our own story” – er, OK – as well as, “We will pave the way.” Fill in potholes? Overall objectives like “We will harness Crossrail” are needed but not abstract ones that can’t be supported by detail.

You can almost see the regeneration genie moving along Romford Road from Stratford towards Ilford. It’s good that the council is committed to its enticement.

I’d love to read suggestions from others on how hurry along that process.

Normandy tours for D-Day veterans

Nichola Rowlands, Remembrance Travel, writes:

I’m currently on a mission to find every single surviving D-Day veteran.

The Treasury is enabling a series of free-of-charge tours for D-Day veterans to return to Normandy and pay their respects to their fallen comrades. The tours are being funded by the Treasury from LIBOR fines, and will enable a D-Day veteran to return with a family member and carer on a six-night tour.

The 2017 tours will take place in March, April, May and September and will give Normandy veterans – now mostly in their 90s – the chance to revisit the Normandy beaches, cemeteries and memorials.

The tours will be accompanied by a medic and a guide from the Royal British Legion.

The tours will depart from London and will include Eurotunnel from Dover to Calais, accommodation, visits to Pegasus Bridge, Juno, Sword, Gold beaches, Arromanches, and war memorials, plus visits to personally specified cemeteries too.

Sadly, there is no database of D-Day veterans so we’re calling on the goodwill of the media and general public to spread the word. So, if you do know a D-Day veteran, please do let them know about our free tours. Normandy veterans wishing to benefit from this tour need to apply to our tour operator, Arena Travel on 01473 660800, or visit arenatravel.com/journeysofremembrance


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