MSG Sphere, pandemic recession, cycle for BHF, hearing loss and Covid insurance

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford. Picture: MSG

A computer-generated image of the proposed MSG Sphere in Stratford - Credit: MSG

Still time to comment on Sphere

Ian Sinclair, McGrath Road, Stratford, writes: 

As the legendary Labour MP Tony Benn was fond of saying: “The ruling classes always control us. The first way is to frighten us, the second way is to divide us, the third way is to demoralize us.  And the fourth way is to make us cynical.” 

It is certainly easy to feel demoralised, especially when it comes to opposing the proposed Madison Square Garden Sphere in Stratford. 

However, it’s important to realise the opposition to the corporate development has lots of support. For example, London Assembly member for City and East Unmesh Desai recently wrote to the London Legacy Development Corporation making a “strong, formal objection” to the Sphere. 

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He notes “it is clear to me that the local community in Stratford is not in favour”, highlighting local concerns about light and noise issues, increased traffic and congestion on public transport and anti-social behaviour. 

Moreover, Newham Council itself is opposed to the building of the Sphere. 

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If you missed the formal December 2020 deadline for submitting comments on the proposal, don’t worry! You can still submit them: LLDC have to consider anything they receive before their decision. 

Email your concerns to, or make them over the phone by calling 020 3488 6894. 

Put families first during this crisis

Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, writes:

The UK is facing the worst recession of any major economy because of the government’s incompetence and indecision. 

Now the chancellor expects families in London to foot the bill - taking £1,000 a year from 759,961 families, damaging our recovery and pulling children into poverty.

We are urging MPs across the House to put party politics aside and vote with Labour today to stop this hit to thousands of people already struggling to get by. 

The government must put families first during this crisis and give them the support and security they need.

Saddle up for BHF virtual cycle

Aimee Fuller, British Olympic Snowboarder and cycling enthusiast, writes: 

It’s important that looking after our physical and mental health remains a priority in 2021.
That’s why I’m encouraging people to stay active and improve their heart health by taking on the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) 30-day virtual cycling challenge, MyCycle.

The BHF found that signing up to a challenge has helped a quarter of people get fitter in the past.

Completing an exercise challenge, like MyCycle, can also have a positive effect on your mental health as it helps to increase your level of endorphins, which are a natural mood booster. This, combined with the knowledge that the miles you’re covering are helping to raise vital funds for the BHF’s life saving research, is sure to help put you in a good mood.

The BHF anticipate they will have to cut funding for new research by £50million this year.
That’s why I’m taking on MyCycle this January. So, join me and start pedalling to up the miles and get sponsored to help raise vital funds for life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.

Survey of over-70s with hearing loss

Pippa Bark-Williams, associate professor, Institute Health Informatics, writes:

I am writing to draw your attention to a study looking at the needs of older people with hearing impairment during lockdown and to request volunteers aged 70 and over.  

For some older people who have been advised to self-isolate for long periods of time during the Covid-19 pandemic, video calling has been a lifeline, helping to keep in touch and reduce isolation and loneliness. However, technology is far from ideal and for those with difficulties with hearing. 

We are particularly interested in finding out what does and does not help. We’ve launched a national survey at UCL (University College London) and we’d love you to take part, whether you use video calls frequently or hardly at all and whether you love them or loathe them (or something in between). 

  • If you are aged 70 or above with hearing loss and happy to fill out a survey (and maybe volunteer to do interviews), click here 

Insurance problem facing Covid care

George Blunden, chair, Revitalise, writes:

One significant way to alleviate the pressure on intensive care beds is to ensure that more care homes accept Covid-19 patients.

Each home has to pass additional infection control checks and have dedicated and trained staff. 

However, Revitalise is now being forced to cease providing this service for new patients as no UK insurance provider is prepared to provide indemnity insurance for the provision of care and support to people with Covid-19.

We have been trying to solve this issue with both insurance companies and government for weeks and have been ignored. The government has the power to fix this and must act.

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