Recorder letters: Covid, sports news, leader’s power and ‘Quiet Streets’

Face masks being worn in a town centre. Picture: Getty Images

Face masks being worn in a town centre. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images

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

Communities need to take the lead

Clive Power, Aldersbrook Road, Wanstead, writes:

Figures on coronavirus infections for the week to October 8 show Redbridge no longer has the worst rate in London – it’s now fourth – but as our numbers went up 17 per cent in a week. It is still bad news for us.

I think this raging increase shows that whatever the government and Redbridge Council are doing, it’s not working well.

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Like all these issues, it’s local people and communities who need to take the lead.

It would be great if groups of people (I think especially women) marched down high streets telling (or shaming) people into social distancing and wearing masks in shops.

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There have been campaigns that have formed spontaneously after some bad event and mobilised on the street; such now of local people might have more impact on their neighbours than no end of official campaigns would have.

Shocking to allow rules to be ignored

Keith Stanbury, chair, Goodmayes Residents Association (GRASS), writes:

I refer to the anonymous letter in last week’s Recorder criticising my comments regarding the failure of shoppers to wear masks when visiting retail outlets.

I made it clear in my published letter that those with a legitimate medical reason should be exempted from the measures I proposed for shops to be fined for allowing maskless people to shop in their stores.

What is shocking and astounding is to allow the rules protecting lives to be ignored and put hundreds, if not thousands at risk. Surely that is disgraceful, I suggest.

In six months Covid-19 has caused more deaths and life-impairing injury to innocent Redbridge residents than knife and gun crime combined.

Hammers pages have disappeared

Dave Williams, Dellow Close, Newbury Park, writes:

Being a regular reader, I’m very disappointed to see that coverage of West Ham Utd has disappeared completely from the sports section. There used to be three pages of coverage which then shrank to one page and now none!

Also the coverage of Orient, Dagenham and Redbridge has also disappeared from your pages.

Moving towards all-powerful leader

Andy Walker, Redbridge Trade Union Party, writes:

The new September 2020 Redbridge Council Constitution appears to gives Cllr Athwal sweeping new powers which should have been debated and voted upon.

The most concerning powers are: “The leader has for the time being and subject to change at any time determined that no decision may be taken by a cabinet member or an officer on any matter which...directly and immediately affects all residents or all business in the borough” (my emphasis).

Another alarming aspect of these powers is the leader refusing to answer any questions about them.

These new constitutional clauses are not dry academic terms, but reveal a shift away from collective decision making towards an all powerful leader with real consequences.

I call on Cllr Athwal to make a statement on these new constitutional powers as soon as possible.

Closures making life miserable

Lesley Harris, Barkingside, full address supplied, writes:

I’ve been a Redbridge resident all my life and have worked with the local community as a key worker, supporting older people, people with disabilities and carers for over 30 years. My husband is also a key worker in the borough.

Since the introduction of Quiet Streets we are forced to use the already congested Horns Road for every car journey we make.

This has led to each of these journeys being further and taking much longer. Far more than “a minor inconvenience” it has made living here miserable and untenable so we too will now leave the borough that used to be, but is no longer, a great place to live.

Still breathing in toxic fumes

Usha Bhimani, Hastings Avenue, Barkingside, writes:

The Labour councillors have succeeded in bringing chaos to our streets.

In a tweet John Howard said, “Kids walking to school are not breathing poisonous fumes and the roads are not gridlock”.

Anyone using Cranbrook Road and Horns Road since the scheme started can vouch that the traffic is nightmare, a journey which use to take few mins can take up to 30 mins or more now.

Is it OK for the residents of Cranbrook Road and Horns Road plus the children who attend schools on these congested roads and the nursery to breathe toxic fumes at the expense of other streets being closed off?

We don’t need quieter streets

Kirti Bhimani, Hastings Avenue, Ilford, writes:

With roads blocked our direct access to Horns Road and A12 have been blocked. Journeys which used to take five to 10 mins are now taking 30 mins or more.

With nearby roads blocked, I have seen increased traffic on my road resulting in more pollution.

I have lived in Barkingside for over 20 years and our streets have always been quiet. We do not need them to be any quieter.

I strongly feel that Quiet Street schemes in Redbridge is and will have a negative impact on the local residents, especially if it is allowed to become permanent.

It flies in the face of Redbridge Labour councillors’ aim to improve the quality of the local environment and the physical, social, mental and economic health of the residents.

Detrimental effect on our lives

Bernice Bass, 80 years old, The Village, Barkingside, writes:

I am horrified at the action recently taken insofar as blocking roads is concerned and this actually demonstrate a distinct lack of care to Redbridge residents.

Emergency services are severely hampered and the recent decision to remove bollards will do little to help save lives when faced with a critical time element.

The length of time it now takes for help to reach me in an emergency could prove life threatening.

I have yet to find anyone who can see a benefit to the planters but they have impaired on the quality of life for many and serious consideration should be given to the detrimental effect they are having on our lives.

Some people need car to get around

Warren and Marilyn Grynberg, Barkingside, full address supplied, write:

As Barkingside residents, my wife and I are shocked by this council who have not consulted with its residents regarding blocking our roads and disrupting our lives.

This council led by Jas Athwal has no regard to the safety and security of us, its residents.

As I understand the reason for this is to encourage people to walk, cycle or run around doing our errands, going shopping and going to and from work or taking our children to school. Some people are elderly, need a car to get around and don’t feel safe walking their small children to school.

The only alternative is to drive taking long detours using up excessive amount of fuel, spewing out petrol and diesel fumes along such roads as Horns Road and Cranbrook Road to Gants Hill roundabout or the junction of Tanners Lane, leading to Horns Road, and Barkingside High Road. The traffic ascending on Gants Hill roundabout is much heavier than in the past causing very long tailbacks.

Multiple accidents involving cars, lorries and a bus have caused pain and unfortunately the loss of life of an elderly lady near the library at Headley Approach close to the roundabout.

With absolutely no consultation with residents, not informing the emergency services or local services such as waste collections this council should be utterly ashamed and clean up the Barkingside chaos to how it was.

Doing away with local democracy

Bharat L Parmar, Ilford, full address supplied, writes:

As a rate-payer of the borough for the last 30+ years, I wish to express my utter disgust at the way the current administration has handled the undemocratic imposition of the Quiet Streets scheme on the unsuspecting residents.

Under Covid-19 act all salient features of local democracy, public consultation and engagement have been done away with, in the name of making our lives safer, healthier, and so on.

None of the local councillors has adequately replied to us and in the past 2-3 weeks, there have been serious accidents, traffic on Horns Road, Cranbrook Road grinding to halt.

Whereas other boroughs have cancelled the so-called low traffic neighbourhoods, a handful of cycle-friendly councillors are not prepared to accept their folly and are even ignoring residents meeting call.

Withdraw scheme until council has consulted with residents

Maria Camozzi-Smart, Barkingside, full address supplied, writes:

I am very concerned that Redbridge Council has brought in a “quiet streets” scheme without any consultation with residents and that the normal legal consultation process has been completely bypassed under new Covid-19 legislation.

Whilst I am all for reducing emissions and car journeys where possible, I find it unjust to put in place a scheme which clearly negatively impacts neighbours living on an already busy Cranbrook Road and Horns Road.

As well as impacting neighbours’ homes there is a primary school, nursery and play area adversely affected by emissions from increased stationary traffic.

I have seen videos circulating of traffic tailing back to Barkingside High Street from Gants Hill and I have also experienced this heavier traffic for myself. I have also seen videos of emergency services unable to get through locked gates and having to cut off padlocks.

I believe these padlocks are now to be replaced with cameras which is an additional cost at a time when Redbridge has, I believe, a black hole in its budget.

These traffic schemes have caused chaos in other London boroughs, so much so that Mayor Khan has pulled his own initiative in Tooting. Wandsworth have removed their scheme and Camden council are removing their cycle lanes. Surely common sense will also prevail in Redbridge especially at a time when people are finding it hard enough to carry out their daily routines and mental health is being affected.

To reiterate the consultation process is there for a reason; to have a debate to better understand the problem from all sides, gauge the enthusiasm for the initiative and involve residents in a solution that the majority are happy with. This will ensure money is not wasted when it might be better spent supporting households who have lost their jobs.

Come on Redbridge it makes sense to withdraw the scheme until you have discussed it thoroughly with your residents.

On-going discontent

Elaine Penn, Southwood Gardens, Gants Hill, writes:

I’m sure Redbridge Council would rather we put up and shut up, but there’s on-going discontent from residents over their Quiet Streets/LTN schemes.

To reiterate some of the more salient points:

non-consultation at local level with emergency services, refuse collectors, postal workers, healthcare workers/district nurses/community and charity services;

an increase in traffic on Cranbrook Road and Horns Road due to vehicles having nowhere else to go - increasing pollution in streets containing primary schools;

emergency vehicles becoming stuck in jams/unable to get through bollards/planters when responding to calls;

residents being forced to drive for 20 minutes in order to access their own garages.

Although I live just outside the cordon, I’m affected while making necessary car journeys, like when I take shopping to my elderly mother in Newbury Park. I fear I wouldn’t reach her swiftly enough should she need me in a hurry.

Maybe Redbridge Council would like to comment on the amount of negative feedback they’ve received about the schemes so far?

Sad mess could easily have been avoided

Michael Green, Headly Drive, Gants Hill, writes:

What a sad mess that could I suspect have so easily been avoided.

With a little thought, the intended result could have been achieved, but without the aroused anger of residents whose money pays the council tax, of which councillors enjoy some.

Why did you blindly follow other councils’ actions, and enclose Barkingside ward into a ghetto-like existence, add to the traffic load on Horns Road-Cranbrook Road, and increase the stress on drivers who have to endure your actions?

What is the point of the traffic monitors now recording the amount-speeds of vehicles along these roads, when the stress-pressure loads on drivers are omitted from your results?

I wonder how much the stress-pressure loads on drivers, contributed to the dreadful double pedestrian fatalities that occurred outside Gants Hill Library on September 24.

Notwithstanding that the scheme is now a month old, Headly Drive rat run is still alive and well, as two of the six roads exiting onto Eastern Avenue are still open, so residents thereof have neither one thing or the other, but speeding motorists just passing through continue at will.

Of course we need quiet streets, but for goodness sake abandon this folly, reopen all roads, and simply ask the residents.

My Lord, I rest my case.

Listen to residents and halt scheme

Mrs Jaswant Kaur Josson, Barkingside, full address supplied, writes:

The idea of Quiet Streets sounds good in theory but in practice, as we have seen in Barkingside, it takes traffic that was flowing easily before the road closures to a virtual standstill.

All this scheme has done is further clog up main roads like Cranbrook Road, Horns Road and The Drive. Other roads are seeing increased traffic like Longwood Gardens and Beattyville Gardens as cars try to avoid Gants Hill. Hainault Road is busier as people look for alternative routes to the A12.

Some people have to use their cars to drop their children to school and travel to work thereafter or go and do their food shopping or drop supplies to a shielding relative. Are we supposed to do a week’s shop on our bikes? Or take an elderly parent for their flu jab or blood test on the back of a push bike?

There will be implications for Ilford businesses as people will decide just not to travel to the town centre, businesses who are already struggling due to the virus pandemic. We need to support local businesses and not drive residents away.

It is hard to get to in or out of the retail park where Aldi and B&Q are on Horns Road.

Not all children can walk to school. Ilford County and Woodford County have catchment areas that cover all of Redbridge and some parents are dropping children to school to avoid them taking public transport.

What will traffic be like when all homeworkers return to work? The situation will get worse. People will be late to work, teachers and students late to school.

This will affect house prices in these areas. We are residents who pay some of the highest amounts of council tax in the borough. Listen to residents and halt the scheme until a full consultation has taken place.

Ridiculous scheme

Harsha Pitrola, Otley Drive, Gants Hill, writes:

I wish to express my concerns regarding the planters that have been placed in our neighbourhood. This has caused so much inconvenience to me and my family who all drive to work.

Rather than encouraging quiet streets it has created chaos!

We wish these to be removed with immediate effect.

Who thought up this ridiculous scheme, and by whose authority?

It is now impossible to get from Horns Road to Cranbrook Road by motor car, not to mention the emergency services. The fire brigade and ambulance can‘t access these streets and could cause loss of life due to time being wasted.

It has increased the traffic; Where is the traffic supposed to go to? Horns Road is often, at times, back to Civic Way, because of the traffic lights at Horns Road and Eastern Avenue junction.

I pay road tax, as does anyone else that owns a vehicle, and yet we are being denied the use of all roads.

The money spent on this scheme would be better off being put towards more police on the streets, and providing Redbridge with wheelie bins, at least the foxes can be deterred in this area. We are the only borough who do not have wheelie bins and food recycling facilities.

Disappointed at lack of support from councillors

Victor Harris, Ashurst Drive, Barkingside, writes:

I am extremely disappointed at the lack of response and support from Aldborough ward councillors in relation to Quiet Streets Barkingside.

As soon as details became known, my wife reached out to Cllrs John Howard, Jyotsna Islam and Debbie Kaur-Thiara in what now seems like the mistaken belief that councillors were elected to represent the views of their ward residents.

Of the three councillors only one replied. The reply was lacking in empathy and suggested in future my wife might consider walking her journey to work (as a key worker and essential car user). This was astounding as said Cllr had never met her, so could not have known whether she had the physical ability to walk or whether she was a wheelchair user.

If the councillors feel unwilling or unable to engage with or to represent the views of their constituents, they should do the decent thing and resign. We did not vote for them to enable them to promote their own agendas, nor for them to ignore our correspondence, nor for them to leave the ‘dirty work’ to Barkingside ward councillors.

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