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Recorder letters: Champions Statue, West Ham MP and Thalidomide survivors

PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 February 2017

Isabel Infantes

Campaigners fighting to keep Champions Statue at Upton Park. Picture: ISABEL INFANTES

Statue move seeks to ‘rewrite’ history

G Bailey, East Ham, writes:

As the father of a family of lifelong West Ham United fans, born and bred in East Ham, I was shocked and saddened by the contribution of Dave Evans to the Radio London feature on the Champions Statue on their Saturday sports show.

When asked about his view on whether the statue should stay or go, he said he was undecided. He then went on to do a good job of representing the views of the club by making the case for it to move. One of the reasons for this was that if it stays where it is and for where it was created no-one would see it.

As someone who is fiercely proud to be from this area, I take great exception to this insult.

Am I, and the thousands of people who live and work and pass through Upton Park on a daily basis “no-one”?

This area has and will suffer enough from the club’s move to Stratford and the plan to move the statue is as unnecessary as it seems to be wilfully mean - spirited to the area that was the home of the club for 112 years.

Whether Dave and the club’s owners like it or not, Upton Park is synonymous with WHUFC and history is important and when Dave talks of creating new history, why not simply create a new statue for the newly branded club at the new stadium.

Thousands of us locals and West Ham fans – yes there are plenty of WHUFC fans who still live in the area – are proud of the ties that bind the club to Upton Park and the Champions Statue is a fitting reminder of that.

The holy trinity of Moore, Hurst and Peters were part of the fabric of the club and the area when they won the World Cup, so why try and rewrite history, which is kind of what Dave is suggesting. I think history is important to football fans and while of course we have to move forward, it is the history and tradition of a club that keeps us rooted as fans to our local club.

For Dave to equate the plaque at the Memorial Grounds with the Champions Statue is simply not an argument that stands scrutiny. As I said, thousands of people see it and live with it every day and while around here we are used to relative neglect, we are not, and will not be, invisible.

I hope as someone who reports for the local paper, Dave might consider the views of his readers and reconsider his position.

•Do you agree with sports reporter Dave Evans who says the Champions Statue should be relocated to West Ham’s new London Stadium? Email newsdesk@newhamrecorder.co.uk

Why did MP abstain on bill?

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Stratford, writes:

If Labour Party MP Lyn Brown is so concerned about child poverty in Newham (‘West Ham MP Lyn Brown is worried about child poverty in Newham’, February 15), why did she abstain on the crucial vote in parliament on the second reading of the Tory government’s Welfare Bill in July 2015?

I ask because the government’s own figures published by the Guardian in May 2015 showed the benefit cap part of the Welfare Bill would push 40,000 more children into poverty. Child Poverty Action Group Director of Policy Imran Hussain noted “the majority of households affected by the benefit cap are lone-parent households and the main victims are children”.

Thalidomide survivors should be compensated

Syed Kamall, MEP for London, leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group, writes:

More than 50 years after the Thalidomide scandal was first exposed, it continues to blight the lives of thousands of people.

Born severely disabled, they experience complex health problems. The condition of many continues to decline.

As a percentage of our population, the numbers are not huge. In the whole of London and the South East, for example, the Thalidomide Trust knows of 109 Thalidomide survivors.

Perhaps that is why the severe injustice they have suffered continues without apology, correction or, in many cases across Europe, proper compensation.

I was privileged and humbled recently to host - with politicians from across the political spectrum - the European Parliament screening of a film highlighting the plight of those damaged by Thalidomide. It starkly documents not only the profound nature of their health problems, but the also grave wrong they have suffered.

The audience in Brussels was struck by their endurance, their courage and the justness of their long, long campaign.

Several EU countries have still not put in place a formal compensation scheme, while in others the payment available is not sufficient to meet victims’ health and independent living costs.

At the time of the original legal action, a lack of clear evidence prevented lawyers from making the case for a just settlement. This was particularly the case in Germany, where this supposed “wonder drug” was developed.

Knowing what we now know, surely both the German manufacturer and the German government has an obligation to meet the needs of the few remaining European Thalidomide survivors?

Along with politicians from other political parties, I am urging German ministers to meet representatives of the survivors. I hope they will give sympathetic consideration of the cases of victims in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden ... and here in London and the rest of Britain.


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