Post letters: Champions statue, dirty debt, refugees and budget

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 March 2017

Isabel Infantes

The possible relocation of Champions statue continues to divide opinion. Picture: ISABEL INFANTES

Place statue near memorial garden

Bob Rush, Monega Resident’s Association, writes:

I have been reading the debates over the West Ham statue, who paid for it, who owns it, and whether it should stay put or be moved to Stratford.

One thing must be said. It is not a club statue, it celebrates England’s win of the World Cup (and it includes a non-club player). On that score there is a persuasive case that if anywhere, it should go to Wembley. That would be very appropriate.

However, there is a growing un-ease about the way the historical ties of the club to Upton Park are being deliberately erased. It is as if some people of influence see the only way of calming criticism of the new stadium, and the club being a corporate entity, is to take away the focus for nostalgia. To grab the statue and pay for a piece of sculpture for the locals is disengenuous to say the least.

But with the council considering a new traffic junction there, things may have to change whether we like it or not.

Last week I walked past the little memorial garden at the old ground and felt very sad how neglected and isolated it had become. My suggestion to all parties is to persuade the money men of the new housing estate to enlarge the garden of remembrance as a place of reflection. Turf around the plots and provide nice seating, and incorporate the statue there as a fitting tribute to those whose ashes reside in the ground.

Now that I feel would be a really nice outcome.

Council loan deal good but not over

Rachel Collinson, business spokesperson for Newham Green Party and Newham resident, writes:

I was pleased to see Newham Council have concluded their use of dirty debt (or Lender Option Borrower Option loans) is a waste of money, as a result of the Green Party and Debt Resistance UK campaign.

Council residents will be saving over £1 million this year now Barclays bank have converted £250 million of these toxic financial products into fixed rate loans. That’s a small step in the right direction.

However, the news is not as good as the council might suggest. Newham Green Party still have some grave concerns. Part of the problem with these 60-year long loans was that they cost £1.2 billion to get out of. But we don’t know how much it will cost to get out of this new 60 year fixed rate loan.

Labour mayor Sir Robin Wales has claimed that he and deputy mayor Lester Hudson negotiated the new deal themselves. However, it appears to be the same deal that Barclays offered to all the other councils and housing associations who had these loans back in June 2016. We’re using the term ‘it appears’ because no details have yet been made public of this supposedly marvellous deal.

We are concerned that Labour are making the same mistake as before - assuming that what looks like a good deal now will remain a good deal for 60 years.

Finally, there has been no mention of the other £250 million in LOBO loans still on Newham Council’s books. Are the council negotiating with the Royal Bank of Scotland on them too? Rather than grovelling to the bankers, what would be best of all is if the council took legal action. If you agree, please sign our 900-signature petition to Newham Council

Welcome refugees to our borough

Joanne Williams, Forest Gate, writes:

I’m writing to you about the treatment of refugees by some politicians and media outlets.

It is unfair, cruel and wrong to define people by where they are from, or the way in which they have travelled, rather than as human beings.

At home this can lead to the racist scapegoating of people born abroad. On the international level this can leads to policies that fail people who have been forced to leave their homes. Governments of the world need to work together to uphold the dignity of the many who don’t have a safe place to call home.

Please show support and compassion for all people in our area and welcome all who move here.

Budget hits those in need hardest

Helen Lynch, disabled resident and communications officer at Newham Green Party, writes:

The chancellor’s Spring Budget utterly failed to address the challenges facing Newham and the rest of the country.

With our NHS and social care in crisis, and air pollution contributing to 10,000 people dying early deaths in London each year, this budget should have been an emergency intervention. Instead, the Tories revealed the extent of their obsession with making more cuts - in spite of proof their austerity ideology has actually increased public debt, rather than reducing the deficit as promised.

This budget was a chance for the government to provide extra money for public services like Newham General and the soon to close Acute Day Hospital. But funding changes announced for the NHS and social care fall woefully short. Instead of investing in our hospitals and care homes, the government is continuing to push ahead with planned corporation tax cuts and handouts to high earners.

The government continues to fail on the air pollution crisis too. While the cost of motoring has dropped in recent years, most public transport costs continue to rise. We should have seen fuel duty money ploughed into public transport – not persistent neglect for all other road users.

On top of this the Spring Budget, as per Hammond’s Autumn Statement, failed to even mention climate change. We desperately need real solutions to the problems facing Newham today, including air and noise pollution from the airport, and road dangers; from crashes and cyclist deaths, to emissions causing dangerous levels of pollution in school playgrounds. Sadly it will be down to local communities, campaigners and public sector workers to pick up the pieces - again.

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