Reasons to celebrate Becontree

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

It is a delight to write an opinion on the forthcoming centenary celebration for the Becontree Estate.

As a former resident of one of the new houses built, my parents and two brothers moved from North London into Ilchester Road in1934.

Our house was brand new with all the modern conveniences of that day and was a wonder to behold just after having been through the depression of 1929. I was able to stay there until I left to go to New Zealand in 1952.

The estate generally was well serviced with modern schools, reasonably close shopping areas, libraries, public transport and the day to day services such as milk and bread deliveries.

The set out of such a large estate, the largest in the world, did not give the sense of being overcrowded.

The houses had good front and back gardens and at that time there were very few motor vehicles around so the roads were uncrowded and safe.

During the war, there was quite a bit of damage done from bombing but with a very good council, it was quickly dealt with. There was a wonderful sense of co-operation among the people in the estate so if there had been any damage, help was always at hand from a neighbour.

One particular feature of those early days was the pride that people had regarding maintaining a good and pleasant outlook. The houses were well kept and there was a garden competition held each year for the front gardens, and my father being a good gardener won it several years, or was second. Although he was often home from a night shift, he would always be attending to his garden before going to bed.

The area was well served with green spaces with parks at either end of our road and these were available for sporting activities as well as children’s play areas such as swings and slides.

The foresight in planning such estates had a similar reforming attitude on schooling, where a system of modern education was introduced for well-planned schools. My school for a start was Dorothy Barley School, just on the neighbouring road to my house, and later to St Erkenwald, also very close in the next road.

The equipment and resources used in the schools were the latest and therefore made the estates a place where good education results would become the norm. Many schools would have been able to report students going on to higher learning as a result of their earlier schooling in schools on the estate.

Bring hedges back to the estate

Lynn Manning, Dagenham, full address supplied, writes:

I read the Becontree estate is being renovated and wonder if the hedges will be reinstated.
It will be eco friendly and make the area look neat rather than like a sprawling car park. If they are tended by council gardeners as they used to be it will provide permanent jobs.

Be clear if you are not religious

Barking and Dagenham Post: The census is underway and will take place on Sunday, March 21The census is underway and will take place on Sunday, March 21 (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

Paul Kaufman, chair, East London Humanists, writes:

Census 21 is a once in a decade opportunity. The information collected helps set government policy for the next 10 years. It is therefore important to make sure the information provided is accurate.

This is particularly important for those of us who are not religious.

According to the British Social Attitudes Survey we make up around two fifths of Londoners and over half the UK’s population.

Unfortunately the question in the Census, “What is your religion”, leads many to say they have a religion even though they don’t have any meaningful belief in it. For example, it might just be the religion they were brought up in.

The same misleading question in the last census cut in half the results of the more accurate British Social Attitudes Survey. This is important.

Underestimating the numbers of non-religious leads to under-allocation in education, health, social care and pastoral care.

It is used to justify outdated provisions such as compulsory Christian worship in state schools and the automatic right of unelected bishops to vote on our laws in Parliament.

It is therefore important that anyone who is not religious in any meaningful sense ticks the “no religion” box.

Safety concerns from all genders

Emma Gibson, director, London TravelWatch, writes:

Our recent research with Londoners showed that concerns about personal safety while moving around the capital are heightened at the moment.

We picked up these concerns from all genders, but particularly among younger people who wanted to see more visible staff and police presence on transport, to tackle anti-social behaviour.

We also picked up a higher level of worry among BAME people about their health and well-being when they are travelling to and from work.

With 60 per cent of key workers being women, its particularly important that transport operators listen and respond to the concerns of the people who are having to travel at the moment. The pandemic has heightened concern about safety in general and more will need to be done to reassure everyone that it’s safe to come back.

All of us in the transport industry need to listen to women and other marginalised groups, prioritise measures that improve safety, and hold accountable those who make others unsafe.

Help us to target ovarian cancer

Sarah Greene, Target Ovarian Cancer patron, writes:

Cancer continues to claim lives regardless of the pandemic. As resources within the NHS are stretched to their limits, charities like Target Ovarian Cancer need your help more than ever before.

Please help us raise awareness and raise funds.

Whilst we are all fighting coronavirus, Target Ovarian Cancer is putting the needs of women with ovarian cancer before all else.

If diagnosed at the earliest stage, nine in 10 women will survive. But two thirds of women are diagnosed late, when the cancer is harder to treat.

I’m writing to ask your readers to take just two minutes of their time to learn the symptoms and spread the word to their families and friends.

The main symptoms of ovarian cancer are: persistent bloating, feeling full or having difficulty eating, tummy pain, and needing to wee more often or more urgently.

  • If you believe in a future where every woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer has the best chance of survival, please show your support and visit