Recorder letters: MSG Sphere, Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, Stratford Office Village and Yeman war

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 April 2019

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford. Picture: MSG

CGI of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford. Picture: MSG


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

Sphere plan is massive boost to job market

Lloyd Johnson, chairman, Newham Chamber of Commerce, writes:

The Newham Recorder (Plans for 21,500-capacity entertainment venue in Stratford are submitted) reported last week on exciting news that Madison Square Gardens has committed to bring the MSG Sphere to Stratford.

Subject to planning permission, the jobs that will be created and supported will not just be on site, they will be across Newham and beyond. While many hundreds of them will be construction workers, the real prize for our local economy is the long-term promise of 1,200 new jobs at the Sphere, when it opens in 2022, and the £50m annual revenue boost that this new visitor attraction could bring for local businesses.

MSG want to work with local businesses from the very start to maximise the potential benefits the Sphere could bring for our local residents and businesses.

That means ensuring as many as possible of the jobs – at all levels of employment – go to people living locally. And ensuring that local businesses, in hospitality and other areas, have maximum opportunities to meet the needs of construction workers and operational staff as well as the fans and artists who visit.

I am pleased, therefore, that the MSG Sphere team has accepted the invitation from our Chamber of Commerce to meet our members, set out their plans and start a conversation about how we can best work together going forward.

Give mayor a fair chance

Maria Sexious, Newham Claimants Union, writes:

Please ex-councillor Clive Furness give Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz a chance and don’t rush to blame her over the state of the council’s children’s services?

Yes children’s services are not perfect. As a mum living in a deprived part of Newham I know that social workers don’t always understand ordinary poor people’s problems and can be quite judgemental; we hope that this will change with training.

But the big problem for children’s Sservices has always been money. For example there have never been enough after-school or holiday activities for children with learning disabilities which makes it really hard for their mums. And when the mums asked why, the answer was always the same – that the council has not allowed enough money.

Remember, up till now our new mayor has had to work with the budget which Clive Furness and colleagues drew up in early 2018. Her new budget gives more money to children’s services. But it only kicked in this month.

So please Clive Furness give her a chance! And please give the cabinet and councillors a chance too because they all input into funding and other decisions. Its a democracy – it’s not just her, you know.

Look after our derelict sites

A Stratford resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

I am writing about the former Stratford Office Village site.

This site is earmarked for redevelopment and most of the buildings are empty but lack of security has seen a lot of vandalism including a former restaurant in Romford Road which has had its windows broken but hasn’t been boarded up or secured for many weeks.

In general I am pleased with the new look and seating areas in and around Stratford, it’s just a shame that sites like the Office Village are lowering the tone.

I don’t know who is responsible for the site but they need to be reminded of their responsibility regarding it.

We are fuelling the Yeman war

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Stratford, writes:

With other conflicts such as Syria tending to receive more news coverage, Newham residents may not be aware of the ongoing war in Yemen.

In March 2015 a Saudi Arabian-led coalition started bombing the country in support of deposed President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Two years later, in March 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced Yemen was “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world”.

Speaking to the House of Lords Select Committee in February 2019 Alistair Burt MP, then the minister of state for the Middle East, said he wanted to make it “very clear” that the UK was “not a party to the military conflict as part of the coalition.”

However, while this formulation may be legally accurate it ignores the crucial support the UK provides to the Saudi Arabian military, recently exposed in the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, Britain’s Hidden War.

An ex-British technician, stationed in Saudi Arabia, explained that if the UK’s support was withdrawn then “in seven to 14 days there wouldn’t be a jet in the sky” over Yemen. An ex-Saudi Air Force officer concurred with this analysis, noting Saudi Arabia “can’t keep the Typhoon [fighter jet] in the air without the British”.

“Without the Typhoon they will stop the war”, he noted.

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