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Recorder letters: Jobcentres, mayoral candidates, parking, and online dangers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 15 February 2017

Plaistow jobcentre in Balaam Street is closing  Picture: STEVE POSTON

Plaistow jobcentre in Balaam Street is closing Picture: STEVE POSTON

Archant

It was sad to see two Jobcentres in Newham closing as the government continues to save money by putting services online, writes Richard Sheppard, White Road, Stratford.

But the truth is that Jobcentres have lost their way over recent years. Interviews, when you get them, are really only for identity checks for new claimants or interviews around sanctions for others. They don’t give advice or help people find jobs, now it’s all online.

In fact, when I recently visited Stratford Jobcentre, I was struck by how quiet it was compared with how I remembered it back in the day.

My main worry about all these changes is for long-term vulnerable claimants who are coming off benefits like ESA after being found fit for work and need special help and advice.

Many of these claimants have been out of work for many years and are computer illiterate. They need to see a human face and get advice if they are not to miss out on alternative benefits and help they might be able to get and are left fall through the cracks.

Computers and online systems are wonders of the modern age but they can’t help everyone and there needs to be an alternative for those who need them otherwise the numbers of rough sleepers will continue to rise.

If your bleak headline ‘Sir Robin approved as mayoral candidate by Labour committee’ Recorder, February 1, represents the current situation, it does not signal the end of the ‘Trigger Ballot’ saga, writes Cllr John Whitworth.

The strong evidence of irregularities in the selection process has left an indelible stain in the fabric of Sir Robin Wales’ victory, which the Labour party’s NEC has not expunged.

This committee’s mild and inadequate response to the Newham party activists’ letter asking for the result to be annulled included the decision to send two NEC members to Newham to find out “what lessons can be learned from the process…” - a recognition at least that all was not well.

More encouraging for the campaigners for a fair contest has been the decision by the Fabian Society that the vote cast by Newham Fabians breached the society’s rules.

An investigation into the conduct of those responsible for this breach will have implications for the validity of the whole Trigger Ballot process.

If a majority of Newham Labour party members feel let down by the NEC, they themselves will not let down the party.

They will continue to work for a reversal of the decision to accept Sir Robin’s candidacy as part of a movement to establish fair, democratic, and transparent practices as the norm within a revitalised Labour party.

Voter apathy risk to consultations

So yet another zone of controlled parking gets inflicted upon the borough (Recorder, February 2 ‘Prince Regent extension RPZ consultation ends this week’), writes Bob Rush, chairman, Monega Resident’s Association.

It’s never as if the majority of residents have ever voted for controlled parking. I believe ‘consultations’ like these are merely a process to make minor adjustments to a policy already decided upon by council politicians and officials.

When we challenged information about the voting figures in Green Street East we were shocked to find only about a fifth of residents had voted, and only about 13 per cent of residents actually wanted the change to take place.

When you consider the referendum on Brexit, where there are cries that a whopping 52 per cent (of a high turnout) is no mandate for action, it makes you wonder about double standards.

Yesterday the world celebrated Safer Internet Day 2017 and the NSPCC welcomes the celebrations, writes Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head of service for London and the south east.

We are working extremely hard in partnership with O2 and the thousands of parents/carers we have spoken to, to give children the best chance to be safe online.

To children, the online world is real life and we want to help parents explore and understand online life as kids know it.

There are many dangers that young people can face online, and if online safety isn’t a regular conversation at school or at home it can put your children at risk. It’s incredibly important that we regularly speak to children about what they like to do online, so that we can understand the type of things they are doing, and any risks associated with their online activity. This also gets the message across that we are ready to listen and support them if something does go wrong.

In the last few weeks I have commented in the media on a growing number of online concerns involving children and young people being targeted by adults through popular “apps” and even online ‘crazes’ that involve children physically hurting themselves. Parents can really help reduce the risk to their children through positive conversations about their child’s online world, and showing an interest in what their child is doing online.

The NSPCC, in partnership with O2 has a dedicated online safety helpline for parents and carers where you can get advice on how technology can help keep your child safe or discuss any concerns you have. You can contact them free on 0808 800 5002. You don’t need to be an O2 customer to use this service.

We also have a dedicated website for parents called Net Aware which gives information about the apps, games and sites that children download and use. It’s a great place to start if you want to find out what children enjoy doing online. Find it by typing Net Aware in your search engine.


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