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Post letters: United Cables football, borough pride, pupils, charity, green belt and fire safety

PUBLISHED: 08:30 23 August 2017

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The Dagenham Cables c.1930. Picture: MICHAEL FOLEY

Hero dad paid the price of war

Les Underwood, full address supplied, writes:

I am writing about the photo in the Post on August 9 concerning the United Cables football team in the 1930s.

The man on the left with the cap on with the team is my father, Mr H Underwood. He was a coach with them and a lines man for other teams. I was four-years-old at the time and he would sometimes take me with him if he could.

He was 14-years-old when he went into the army to fight in the First World War. He was buried alive three times which crushed his lung, but he still went back up the line and then got gassed with mustard gas which started to eat his only surviving lung away.

He was trying to fight to live but he lost his fight. The look on his face is a sight I will never forget as long as I live. Yet despite this my three brothers and I still went to fight in World War II and came back alive.

A lot of men still pay the price of war.

Proud to live in the borough

A local resident, full address supplied, writes:

I moved to Barking and Dagenham 18 months ago from living in a neighbouring borough for the past 20 years.

I was warned not to move ‘back in’ by acquaintances and even the estate agents! I was quoted the crime rates, the poverty, the unemployment, etc, etc, I could go on. How glad am I that I did not listen to any of these words of advice?

Finding a property to buy is a nightmare - most are sold before advertising, as is the high demand to live in this borough, but since moving I secured myself a great job locally, created lasting friendships of all nationalities, I’ve enjoyed the free borough events on offer over the summer, joined the local sports centre (Becontree/Abbey have the best facilities).

I shop in the vibrant Dagenham and Barking markets, participated in the ever emerging arts scene and walked along the stunning riverside spaces. The schools and colleges are excellent and the parks are award winning. What is there not to love?

Yes, there is an evident element of crime, of homelessness, of unemployment, of refuse dumping but these are being proactively tackled head on by the council, but in fairness all areas of London suffer from this.

The borough appears to me to be going from strength to strength - this will all take time, as these things do, but with the new film studios and university in Dagenham and Vicarage Fields in Barking being developed, along with the derelict areas and run down estates being renovated and public transport being increased, I can only see positives for the area and I for one, am proud to say that I’m a resident here.

Disappointment of disadvantaged pupils report

Dr Leonard Restall B Ed, M Ed (Hons), New Zealand, formerly from Barking, writes:

The depressive report given in last week’s Post regarding disadvantaged pupils is quite alarming but predictable. This becomes a major social and educational problem.

It stated that these disadvantaged pupils were likely to be more than one year behind their peers, and may be even further behind when they leave secondary school. They may also tend to have poorer health, less likely to continue with further compulsory education, and more likely to be involved with crime. This type of position is deplorable and answers need to be found to reverse such trends.

What dreadful prospects to look forward to unless serious steps are taken to change this social problem. One may ask can this position be changed? The answer must be ‘yes’ but it will take much effort,

Social problems do not necessarily appear overnight but accumulate over time.

The cultural background and social economic class or status of many of these unfortunate pupils has a big part to play in their development and it seems to be suggested by results that some form of compensatory assistance could be an answer. Results showing differences between pupils who were given free meals to those who were not given them tend to confirm that this procedure could help those from economically disadvantaged homes, But the stigma that could be associated with such actions may be detrimental to their value.

A recent article in the Times stated that we appear to be stuck with a school system that fails to cater for two thirds of young people, and this may apply to many schools. In fact underachievement levels of the OECD countries including UK indicate 20 per cent of pupils are underachieving and it may not be fixed by ploughing more money into it. Cultural and cognitive intervention that can make a difference are needed to bridged the gap between the ‘have’ and the ‘have-nots’. Therefore, there can be an answer to the problem of disadvantaged pupils.

Run to support diabetes charity

Roz Rosenblatt, head of London Diabetes UK, writes:

Are you training for a marathon, half marathon or fun run in the next few months and wondering which good cause to support? If so, Diabetes UK would love your help in raising vital funds for the charity.

As well as a free running vest and other fun props, such as crazy hair, Diabetes UK also offers fundraising support. And we have the loudest cheerleaders in the business! But best of all, every penny raised by Team Diabetes UK will help us support people living with diabetes in the UK.

Diabetes is one of the UK’s biggest health crises, and it’s on the rise. Some 4.5 million people in the UK have the condition, meaning that many of us know someone who is affected. A further 11.9 million in the UK are at risk of Type 2 diabetes, which usually develops later in life and can sometimes be prevented with a healthy lifestyle. Diabetes can cause devastating complications, including blindness, amputations, even early death.

For information on signing up to fundraising events for Diabetes UK, visit diabetes.org.uk/fundraising-events or call the Events Fundraising team on 0345 123 2399.

Puzzling item on meeting agenda

Terry Justice, Ashton Gardens, Chadwell Heath, writes:

On July 31, this year, something unusual took place, the Development Board met at the Town Hall. This in itself is not unusual but the procedures in consideration of an item on the agenda was puzzling in the extreme.

The applicant wished to raise a marquee and to pave a field for the purposes of car parking and the accommodation of various functions on green belt land, within the wild-liife park at The Chase. Council officers had recommended refusal of the application, as they had done on two previous occasions, the second of which resulted in an appeal similarly refused.

However, eight councillors supported the refusal and eight voted for the applicant; the chairman of the board cast his vote with the application. This in itself is unusual — a chairman’s vote in these circumstances is not a ‘free’ vote and the norm is a vote for the status quo, in other words with the serial recommendation of refusal by council officers.

One of the points raised in support of the applicant was that there are insufficient venues to accommodate large numbers within the borough. This is not true and, as an example, the City Pavilion at Collier Row Road, Marks Gate, has a number of suites, the largest able to seat up to 1,200 people. Indeed, a few years ago that same establishment, which backs onto green belt, made an application to replace an old iron staircase with an outside glass lift to the first floor banqueting suite, described above, and were turned down because the board considered that it would interfere with the ambience of the green belt, despite the structure being within the boundary of the property.

It is inexplicable to me and, I suspect, many of your readers that a council which has jealously guarded its green belt in this manner would quite suddenly allow building not just upon its green belt but upon a depicted wild-life area. Large numbers of people descending on the venue at regular intervals would, I suggest, do a little more harm than merely disturbing the ambience? The peace and tranquility enjoyed by not only the wild-life but by the public could well be gone forever.

To conclude, I now hear that a further application is in the pipe-line to make the structure of ‘a more permanent’ nature. It would seem that the thin end of the wedge may well have been firmly inserted?

Victory for those in council homes

Sian Berry, Green Party member of the London Assembly, writes:

People living in council homes forced to argue, fill in forms and appeal just to get basic information about the safety of their homes will be finally be able to see fire risk reports that many councils have so far refused to publish.

I wrote to the information commissioner who released new guidance last week, telling councils ‘don’t wait to be asked’ to publish this vital information – they will no longer be able to fob residents off or hide behind commercial excuses.

This is a victory for residents across the country. People everywhere need to be able to see what information is held about their safety at home and what action is being taken to improve it.

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