Recorder letters: Coronavirus - street cleaners, the vulnerable, VE Day and education online

PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 April 2020

Celebrations under way for VE Day 1945. Picture: PA Images

Celebrations under way for VE Day 1945. Picture: PA Images

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Street cleaners need more support from mayor

Andrew Baikie, Nigel Road, Forest Gate, writes:

I have read with interest about various responses from Newham Council to the current public health emergency, and in particular the lobbying of government from Rokhsana Fiaz (the current Mayor of Newham).

Surely Rokhsana could go further, directly, and within her own control and action, now?

In various ways.

For example, the street which I live has seen an increasing incidence of littering by personal tissues and even dumped protective masks.

Newham’s street cleaners do a great job, but they need more support from Rokhsana Fiaz to do their job even more effectively, while keeping themselves and us all safe.

With the reality and future prospect of a 16 per cent increase in council tax from Rokhsana over four years - surely this is not too much to ask for?

The most vulnerable hit the hardest

Unmesh Desai, London Assembly Member for City and East, writes:

In these difficult circumstances, it is terrible to see that the most vulnerable in our community are set to be hit the hardest. And yet, it has been incredibly encouraging to see our community reaching out to those in need.

Right now, foodbanks are struggling under the weight of increasing demand. Where possible, we can help out with our time, donations and financial support.

Help is also coming from City Hall, which has already launched a £2 million emergency support fund for community organisations and set up a dedicated online page for volunteers.

The mayor is also working to ensure homeless people can self-isolate, securing an initial 300 hotel rooms for this purpose.

The congestion charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) have been suspended to provide an extra helping hand to those in key frontline services who drive to work.

On top of this, all businesses on Transport for London’s estate have been granted full rent relief for three months. And the mayor has strengthened London’s Culture at Risk office, to help stop the closures of entertainment venues in the capital.

In the meantime, I want to thank local people for following government guidance, and for looking out for one another where they can.

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Ways to celebrate VE Day safely

Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR, Pageantmaster, wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson:

Due to the necessary cancellation and postponement of the VE Day 75 Community celebrations because of the dreadful virus circulating the planet at the moment I believe the following provides us all with a simple alternative that could still take place, paying ‘tribute’ to the millions at home and abroad who gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.

What I propose still provides the whole of the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man with the unique opportunity of coming together at one moment in time to celebrate and commemorate this important anniversary on May 8 - VE Day 75 this year without putting the public in any danger whatsoever; especially as there are two elements of the already planned VE Day 75 celebrations that could continue without problem if the media and Her Majesty’s government, led by our prime minister would assist us in making this happen on the 8th May this year.


• 2.55PM - BATTLE’S O’er: Live on TV, Radio and through social media, a pre-recorded lone Piper plays ‘Battle’s O’er’, the traditional march played on the pipes at the end of a battle, and ‘VE 75 Years’, the new March I had commissioned in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

• 3PM - SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER CHURCHILL: Live on TV, radio and through social media, the recording of the famous speech made by Prime Minister Churchill, announcing the end of the war in Europe which was broadcast to the nation in 1945.

• FOLLOWING THE SPEECH AND FROM HOME: Following the speech, and led by you as our prime minister from wherever you may be at this time, you would invite the many millions of individuals and families throughout the UK to stand and raise a cup of tea, soft drink or another of their choice and undertake the attached ‘Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of WW II,’ from home, paying ‘tribute’ and saying ‘thank you’ to the millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.

• NATIONAL ANTHEM: Following the ‘Nation’s Toast’ all would be invited to remain standing while the National Anthem is played.

I strongly believe the above would be the sort of alternative that Churchill would have undertaken during these uncertain times, providing our country with the unique opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to those who won our freedom should we still be in the position that local community VE Day 75 events throughout the country have to stay cancelled or postponed.

I wish you and your family well over the next few difficult months.

Time for education community to step up

Steve O’Hara, director of education, Exemplar Education, writes:

As schools are now in lockdown, I am pleased to say that Exemplar Education is making its entire Maths library of over 2,000 online maths lessons (for Year 1 to GCSE) available to all UK children free of charge.

The website is

With millions of parents now thinking about how to ensure continuity of learning, is it not time more businesses in the education community stepped up to support the nation’s families and children?

As schools grind to a halt for all but the children of key workers, the parents doing their very best at home, need resources to hand.

I encourage others in the education community to open up access to their home based solutions and join us in supporting parents and families everywhere.

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