Letters: Free school meals, area renaming cost and traffic congestion

Families eligible for free school meals will be able to claim £30 per child for the Christmas holida

School meals being dished up - Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Images

Don't remove free school meals

Cllr Quintin Peppiatt, ex-cabinet member for children’s services, writes: 
I am writing to you about the proposal by the mayor of Newham in her proposed budget to remove free schools meals from primary school children.
I led in introducing the free school meals scheme over 12 years ago. Free school meals happened because we saw the struggles of low-income families. 
A study by the University of Essex has shown the scheme has led to a fall in obesity rates as they are much better for children than packed lunches. It also saves low income families with two children over £700 a year.
I believe the removal of this scheme will increase administrative costs to schools as they have to employ new staff to deal with the new charges. 
The removal of the scheme will hit low income families hard in these challenging times. The £1 subsidy for each meal that the council has said it will provide does not make up for the removal of the scheme. 
I never thought a Labour mayor, even in the most challenging of times, would look to cut the free school meals scheme for our primary school children.

Who will pay if area renamed?
Paul Siggins, Leytonstone, full address supplied, writes: 
Regarding the story, (Neighbours’ fury over call to rename Maryland ward over slavery ‘link’).
Perhaps the mayor should be directed to the article in the Recorder on May 25 this year by Lindsay Jones. Professor Ged Martin makes a reasoned argument that the name comes from Old English ‘maere’ for boundary (as in Mare Street, Hackney). Any links with a slave owning former resident called Lee seem to be tenuous.
If National Rail is to be asked to rename the station, will Newham Council be willing to pay for the rewriting of timetables, tickets and signage involved?
There are far more examples of “a disservice” to the borough’s diversity which are “the source of great disappointment” (to use the mayor’s own words).
I wonder how many other people out there are genuinely offended by this issue.
Newtown or ‘Newspeak’? I am now preparing to be offended by Mr Lee’s possible link with the River Lea. There are a lot of things that need renaming I think.

Don’t let our city become congested
Caroline Russell AM, Green Party, writes:
Transport for London (TfL) has sent me new data showing that nearly half of all journeys in London were taken by walking or cycling during the first lockdown - 46 per cent of journeys between April and June.
Londoners got a real taste of clean air and quieter streets, and these figures show they got on and made the most of it. Given half a chance, many Londoners will walk and cycle as their main way of getting around.
Our streets and parks have been so full of people of all ages walking and cycling, and children riding bikes are no longer an unusual sight.
Now the mayor must do all he can to avoid a car-jammed city, and help boroughs provide safe conditions for walking and cycling throughout London for good.
 This means bringing forward more money for low traffic neighbourhoods, smooth accessible pavements with tactile paving in the right places and new cycle lanes to link up a city-wide network.
Traffic clogged and polluted roads are not inevitable, so long as the mayor takes this important action.

Call GP if you get cancer symptoms
Dr Anthony Cunliffe, Macmillan GP advisor for London, writes:
I am writing to you to remind your readers how important it is to contact their GP if they have concerning symptoms that could be cancer during the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic has meant far fewer people in London have come forward with symptoms that could be cancer. In June during the first lockdown, 31 per cent (around 10,000) fewer people than expected saw a specialist for suspected cancer after an urgent GP referral.
Additionally, according to recent figures, 4,500 fewer people in London started cancer treatment since the start of the pandemic compared to the same period in 2019.
Now, during the second lockdown we are urging Londoners to get in touch with their GP immediately if they experience common symptoms of cancer.
These can include changes to their body, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite, lumps or bleeding, coughs or new, unexplained pain anywhere in your body which doesn’t go away after three weeks. 
Surgeries are now offering appointments over the phone or virtually, which can be easily and securely accessed, and will still be seen face to face where required.
Cancer is often easier to treat the earlier it is diagnosed so GPs still want to hear from anyone with worrying symptoms. Please contact your surgery if you have concerns.
I also want to ask people who have cancer appointments, including tests and check-ups, to still attend. NHS staff have worked hard to make sure cancer treatment can still be given as safely as possible so we are also encouraging people to attend these appointments too.
For information, support or just a chat, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 0000 or visit macmillan.org.uk

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