Recorder letters: Silvertown Tunnel, arms fair, patient rights, cats claws and coffee morning

PUBLISHED: 07:30 20 September 2017 | UPDATED: 07:53 20 September 2017

Computer generated image of the Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: TfL

Computer generated image of the Silvertown Tunnel. Picture: TfL


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

New tunnel will tackle pollution

Gurpreet Bhatia, Barking, full address supplied, writes:

The attempts of Friends of the Earth to try to stop the approval of the Silvertown tunnel providing a vital new link in east London over the River Thames on an environmental rationale is a misjudged viewpoint.

We can all agree that vast improvements are needed to improve the pollution levels across London caused by traffic, however it is surely better to have moving traffic flows across the river via a new tunnel than longer queues at the already congested Blackwall tunnel.

This issue is slowly being further exacerbated with new housing developments in the East running at a pace including the 10,800 home Barking Riverside site, development of West Ham United’s old Boleyn ground into 842 new homes and the continued housing expansion in the Docklands amongst others.

Moreover, new housing developments also require all the vital ancillary infrastructure needed to support such sites including schools, shops and medical practices amongst others.

Crossing the Thames will invariably become more difficult and time consuming in years to come from east London with more traffic on the roads, it is best to build crossing capacity now, tackle pollution with stricter regulations on vehicle emissions and continued and steady improvements in public transport infrastructure.

Close arms fair to protect lives

Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party member of the European Parliament, writes:

The world’s largest arms fair is currently underway in my constituency, London.

As I write, UK ministers and civil servants are facilitating the sale of weapons to 56 countries, including many with records of using them to commit appalling human rights abuses – Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain and more.

However, while the British Government has been busy promoting the global arms trade, members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of a resolution asking Member States to take responsibility for the dreadful consequences of these deals.

In an ideal world, we’d stop the sale of weapons altogether. However, if that’s not feasible we are morally and legally obliged to ensure they do as little harm as possible. We need to know where the arms we sell are going, who is using them, and why. If countries fail to uphold international humanitarian law, we should stop providing them with military equipment. If Member States don’t comply with this rule, they must face real consequences.

It’s time for the UK Government to recognise this direction of travel, and shut down the DSEI festival of violence for good. The event sends a clear message to the EU and the rest of the world that the UK is moving backwards – prioritising lucrative arms deals over defending human rights. For as long as this is allowed to continue, innocent people will pay with their lives.

Know your rights as an NHS patient

Rob Behrens, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, writes:

The NHS provides excellent care to thousands of people day in, day out. We all have an understanding of the pressures the NHS faces, but this should not stop people from speaking up when things go wrong.

Data published last week by NHS Digital revealed that there were 208,400 complaints about the NHS in 2016-17. However, all too often, patients and their families are not fully aware of their rights. The NHS Constitution states that everyone has the right to complain, to have their complaint about NHS services acknowledged within three working days, and to have the matter properly investigated.

It is important that patients are also aware that if they are dissatisfied with the way in which their complaint is handled, they have the right to bring their complaint to us – the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) - for an independent and impartial view.

Where the PHSO upholds complaints, we recommend that the NHS puts things right by offering an appropriate remedy. This might be an apology, a financial remedy, the creation of action plans to ensure mistakes are not repeated, the introduction of additional staff training, or changes to policies and procedures. Throughout our work, we see a wide variation in the quality of NHS complaint handling so it is imperative that people know their rights and are not afraid to complain when mistakes are made.

Claw covers not safe for cats

Vanessa Howie (BVetMed MRCVS), Cats Protection’s clinical veterinary officer, writes:

I would like to raise my concerns on behalf of Cats Protection about the increased use of claw covers for cats.

This rising trend, which involves directly gluing a cover onto each individual claw, prevents cats from expressing their natural behaviours including claw retraction, scratching objects to keep their claws in good condition and to leave comforting visual marks and scent signals. Not allowing a cat to exhibit normal behaviour may lead to the development of behavioural problems and place a cat at risk by reducing its natural defences.

This could mean the owner is failing a pet’s welfare needs and could be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act 2006; should the claw covers injure or harm the cat, they may have also committed the offence of causing “unnecessary suffering”.

The only situation in which it would be appropriate to fit plastic caps to a cat’s claws is short-term for specifically diagnosed medical or behavioural problems.

It is important to remember that cats are sentient animals and not fashion accessories.

World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

Farhana Chowdhury, Macmillan Cancer, regional communications Assistant for London, South East and East of England, writes:

Macmillan Cancer Support’s flagship fundraiser, World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, takes place on Friday, September 29 and every slice of cake eaten and cup of coffee poured has the power to help change lives for people living with cancer.

The charity is asking everyone to take part, either by hosting a coffee morning or by attending one. Last year 10,731 coffee mornings were held across the East of England region.

For more information click here

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