Recorder letters: Elected mayor, gambling arcade approval, Covid and mental health for the blind

East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

East Ham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Letters sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Newham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Newham Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Rejection of petition surprising

Andrew Baikie, Nigel Road, Forest Gate, writes:

The Newham Recorder reports that Newham Council has rejected a petition requesting a full public ballot about whether we in Newham have a directly elected mayor or not as “invalid”.

This is both a little difficult to understand and surprising, given that Rokhsana Fiaz says that Newham Council puts “people at the heart of all that (we) do”.

Rejecting a petition as “invalid” is hardly “putting people at the heart of all that we do”, surely ?

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Also Newham Council are still consulting on, and inviting views on, such important matters as the future of our High Streets –and the massively important issue of council housing allocation.

Surely these consultations are not equally “invalid”?

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* A Newham Council spokesperson responded: “Mr Baikie’s letter questions the rejection of this petition while public consultations with local residents continue. The council welcomes the views of local people, which is why we are continuing to invite feedback on a number of important issues.

“However, we are prohibited by regulations introduced under the Coronavirus Act 2020 from accepting this – or any other – petition at the current time. The regulations state that any petition received between March 16, 2020 and May 5, 2021 must be held to be invalid, and that any petitions received during this period can only be reconsidered on or after May 6, 2021.”

How could council agree to arcade?

A Smith, Sycamore Close, Canning Town, writes:

Well I’ve just sat through four hours on a Zoom licence application meeting to be told that a man who’s local but lives in Loughton, is able to run his gambling arcade literally 24/7 from 12.01am to 11.59pm.

Apparently he has a direct line to the borough commander (is he threatening us or what is he implying?)

I’m not sure if it’s a charity he’s running or a gambling arcade as we heard from his agent/solicitor that he provides his punters with a cup of tea and if need be a cab home. I assume after taking their pension money from them as it’s elderly punters who go in there to socialise!!!

Do we have problems on the Barking Road? Obviously not from the gambling arcade as it’s a family business and the punters are elderly.

I feel today that the officers haven’t a clue what goes on in Canning Town. They don’t live in Canning Town though they may zip through in their cars.

When you have a borough that has so many people unemployed or on extremely low incomes these places causes untold misery to our community. But it’s OK, he’ll give you a cup of tea if you lose your rent/food money.

Today’s fiasco was unbelievable that officers of the council could agree to such an application to go ahead.

We had councillors on that panel who should have spoken up as we have a huge problem with anti-social behaviour around Barking Road, this is known to the police.

I thought naively that councillors spoke up for the people who put them in power.

We can’t sink much lower

Josephine Phillips, Canning Town, full address supplied, writes:

Regardless of a residents’ and traders’ petition and police opposition, at a 4.5hr Zoom licensing meeting on Tuesday, the council eventually approved yet another licence for an AGC, slots, on Barking Road, E16.

Already the most deprived and poorest borough in the land with mental health issues and a total high crime hot spot with additional police funding, this was all we needed, NOT!

After promises of a decent High Street and market stalls this is all we get – tacky gambling, drinking and fast food outlets.

Just remember the days when we had Boots, Granditers, Blooms, Jacksons and yes, Woolworths. We were spoilt!

We lost the market and shops in the name of regeneration. To what? A few second hand stalls twice a week, with fruit and veg and a chicken stall.

We can’t sink much lower. Our elected representatives are supposed to bring the area up not watch it sink like a submarine!

That’s the problem when there is no opposition, and, to cap it all I have just read that the Peoples Petition regarding mayoral reform has been held up until May 2021 - and they call that democracy!

We can all play a part to fight Covid

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, writes:

Cases of coronavirus in London have been steadily increasing in recent weeks and we are now at a tipping point in our efforts to limit the spread of the virus in the city.

Londoners still hold the key to reducing infection rates and lessening the impact of any second wave by making a continued conscious effort to consider our movements and behaviour.

Small actions can have a big impact on these trends, and by sticking to social distancing, practising good hand hygiene and following guidelines around the rule of six and face coverings, we can all play our part.

Mental health help for the blind

Amanda Hawkins, specialist lead, Emotional Support Services, RNIB (The Royal National Institute of Blind People), writes:

The RNIB has worked with Mind to launch Emergency Mental Health Sessions for local blind and partially sighted people to mark World Mental Health Day.

The sessions are completely free and offer people with sight loss the opportunity to speak to a counsellor for an hour over the phone about however they are feeling and any problems that are on their mind. It doesn’t have to be about their sight at all. If you or someone you know could benefit from speaking to someone, please call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999. We can set up a chat within 36 hours.

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