Recorder letters: Happy Valley, planning and public toilets

Happy Valley.

Happy Valley is in need of some TLC - Credit: Laurence Payne

Long-neglected area needs TLC

Laurence Payne, Farnham Road, Ilford, writes: 
The ‘biodiverse woodland’ being planted in Seven Kings Park will doubtless be an attractive feature.
But, Happy Valley already exists a hundred yards to the north-east. 
As well as duplicating a miniature version of it, why not put some resources into a bit of TLC for this long-neglected but beautiful area?

Councillors are wasting our taxes
An Ilford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
I am shocked and disgusted with Redbridge Council. 
With the pandemic raging around us and lockdown keeping us all separate and apart, with furlough and redundancy looming around us like ghouls in the fog, I find myself looking for something, anything, to keep my mind busy and active.
I had read about a local development that seemed interesting in the Ilford Recorder – the same article gave a date for our local council planning committee to convene and discuss regarding this development.
This is one definitive bonus to lockdown – I can now sit in council meetings from the comfort of my own home! 
So, I poured myself a port, got myself comfortable on the sofa, and prepared myself to listen to an evening of council meetings. Unfortunately, it left me with a sour taste in my mouth, the longer it went on.
It started out amicably enough – a comprehensive and dry presentation detailing the development attaching to Montrose College by a local developer that I had read about previously. 
Very little of this was new, as I had looked into the website after I saw the article. This development would create money, shops and - most importantly - jobs into the local economy and would even help develop the existing college by enabling proper step free access, enabling the physically handicapped access to the building by a lift, rather than struggling up the stairs or needing to walk the steep ground from the rear car park which I looked up on Google maps. 
As 22 per cent of the UK population registers as disabled to some extent, a local contractor promoting their higher education seems an altogether noble endeavor - they most certainly did not have to develop or allow a college to operate at all. 
The development would also provide designated parking for students and teachers at the council and dedicated parking for handicapped people. They even bought some parking space off the council to do so!
While the planning officers tirelessly provided conclusive and objective evidence with a strong recommendation to approve, the councillors - four of them – were most vehement in their arguments against this. 
They argued - without providing evidence, or even an eyewitness testimony - that disabled people already park on this land. 
When their own advisers pointed out that any parking on that land was done so illegally (as the council had previously prohibited it be used for parking), the current council maintained that it would be worse to develop the land.
To a layman, it seems to be that the planning council was in favour of upholding the current ability of people to break the rules and flout the law. How indicative of a current mindset.
It was also strange that none of the strong objectors, the disabled students, or a representative from the student council of the college attended the council meeting.
The council’s second point of contention was - understandably- a matter of increased parking stress.
This is a matter at the heart of every local resident with a vehicle. 
Unfortunately, this seems to be another blunder on behalf of the council! 
I heard that the local developer had agreed a parking restriction plan which the planning officers had accepted. 
Unfortunately, the Redbridge councillors seem to not know their own legislation, or choose to ignore it and their own experts - to the detriment of the local area that they claim to serve.
This, to me, serves as a prime example of this governments’ -and of this council specifically - tremendous ability to argue amongst itself and promoting an attitude of banal and blatant anti-intellectualism in open defiance of the experts. This is the same approach and attitude that led to the undeniable mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I have been keeping an eye for a refusal note from the council setting out the reasons. This appears to still not have been issued, seven days after the meeting. This is odd, because historically it is published immediately so it seems that even the council’s legal team is struggling to find a reason for the refusal. This schedule has also been maintained during the pandemic, so it seems
In truth, I also took umbrage at the fact the councillors, councillors, in particular the four referred to earlier, seemed biased. It is like they had made up their minds about the project before they sat down at this meeting. It was as though they had determined that they would refuse this project regardless of what was mentioned or their own experts’ recommendations. 
Dearest readers get your head around this: our hard-earned taxes are being wasted. The council are wasting time and money refusing a local developer the opportunity to develop land that they have already marked as to be developed. Sadly, it only gets worse; the developer is likely going to take the decision to appeal so the council now have to waste more hard earned public money on trying to defend the indefensible, and argue against the decision their own councillors made against their own professional team’s recommendations.

Toilets needed for delivery drivers
Cathy Davies, Fairlop ward, writes:
My neighbours have been rather disturbed to notice random vans stop in our road and, rather publicly, use it as a public convenience. 
Aside from this being antisocial, it leads me to ask what provision is being made for visitors to the borough who are in need of a comfort stop? 
Many more people now shop online and the pressures of working for delivery companies are well known.
It would seem Redbridge Council have given this matter no thought. 
During lockdown, naturally public conveniences had to be shut but huge spending cuts in 2011 saw many local toilets closed.
I hope Redbridge can find a way forward with this. 
One-in-20 people have a medical condition requiring use of conveniences absolutely urgent. 
It may be delivery companies can work in conjunction with the council to fund new toilet blocks but it is certainly a problem that needs to be resolved.

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