Show disgust at rule-breakers

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

The shocking rate and numbers of Covid cases in Barking and Dagenham, the highest of any borough in England, is a disgrace and not to be proud of. It indicates that rules for preventing such a scourge are being flagrantly ignored or not being followed.

The result is that the growth rate will become exponential and difficult to get control of and bring a greater crisis in the disease rate, with more deaths and hospitals overloaded and put under stress - which can have adverse effects upon the health system.

But it is the overall effect upon other aspects of the community that become under stress such as businesses, schools and jobs, and the local economy that will be more affected. Businesses can become devastated by the loss of workers and the economic downturn.

But a more salient effect can be upon the local morale which becomes despondent and expecting the worst to become inevitable. It does not have to be this way.

From my distance away from Barking it appears to me there seems to be a complete disregard for the measures.

Rules are not followed, or ignored, with such careless disobedience such as large party groups operating. Such behaviour can only be described as foolish or idiotic and needs to be recognised as a social malady and disgrace.

I live in New Zealand, which brought this pandemic under control with hard but quick actions, where all contacts had been identified and controlled, leaving us no need to have social distancing, and clubs and restaurants all able to operate as they should. We still have our big sports stadiums full with spectators all contributing to good morale and business coming back to normal.

There needs to be a social conscience developed that will show disgust at rules being flagrantly violated.

Fines for violators may have a minimal effect but social disgrace may have a stronger salutary effect and bring the rate of infringement down.

Join Zoom call on tenants’ manifesto

Pauline Hutchison and Pat Turnbull, regional representatives, London Tenants Federation, write:

On Tuesday, January 19, social housing tenants and leaseholders from across London are invited to come together for the launch of The London Tenants’ Manifesto.

Just over a year ago, tenant reps from across London met to begin drawing up a vision of a positive future for social housing in London. Since then, Covid-19 has shown us that this tenant-led vision is more timely than ever.

The Health Foundation is now making the case that social housing is essential to the Covid-19 recovery phase. Yet each scandal, disaster and sham consultation tells us that the quantity, quality and management of social housing is far from where it needs to be. We, as tenants, should be at the heart of discussions as to how this can change, but too often we feel unheard.

On January 19 we will be looking at how this could be turned around. We want to ensure that, when it comes to our homes, social housing tenants and leaseholders are respected as experts and involved from the outset in overseeing all aspects of the safety, design and maintenance of our homes.

The launch will take place at 2pm on January 19 via Zoom. To all interested, please email to find out more and book.

We hope to see you there.

Streetspace must be expanded

Barking and Dagenham Post: A worker puts the finishing touches to a pop-up cycle lane. Bollards have been added to the road to create segregation between cyclists and other road users as part of London's Streetspace programmeA worker puts the finishing touches to a pop-up cycle lane. Bollards have been added to the road to create segregation between cyclists and other road users as part of London's Streetspace programme (Image: PA Archive/PA Images)

Caroline Russell, London-wide Assembly member, Green Party, writes:

It is extremely worrying that we are facing a surge in coronavirus cases and a more infectious variant of the virus that has put our city under siege.

Getting through this new lockdown period will be tough, and it is more important than ever that we have room to make our essential journeys to local shops for food, medicine, or to support our communities, safely. I wrote to the mayor on December 23 asking him to expand his Streetspace programme. It’s vital that he responds.

Streetspace gave us a glimpse of a more inclusive city, where there was space for children, older and disabled people to safely walk and cycle, and there were fewer cars and vans pumping out pollution across our city.

We need more of this to make it easier for Londoners to protect one another by maintaining safe social distancing as we queue for food shops or head to the park during the difficult months ahead. The mayor must expand his Streetspace programme.

Help available for RAF veterans

Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, chief executive, RAF Benevolent Fund, writes:

Lockdown measures mean many of our veterans will be facing the next several weeks – or months – completely alone.

To help combat this, last year the RAF Benevolent Fund introduced a weekly Check and Chat service to support members of the RAF Family experiencing loneliness.

The Fund also facilitates weekly Telephone Friendship Groups, provides access to a Listening and Counselling Service, relationship counselling support, and an online wellbeing portal to help support emotional wellbeing amongst the veteran community.

We are calling on the people of London to consider whether they know any RAF veterans, or their spouses or widows, who may be experiencing loneliness. To refer someone to the RAF Benevolent Fund, please visit or call 0300 102 1919.

You can help work of the NSPCC

Sarah Lambley, NSPCC supporter fundraising manager, London, writes:

Children have been strongly affected by the pandemic. Since the first lockdown measures were introduced, the average monthly number of referrals from the NSPCC’s helpline to agencies such as the police or children’s service increased by 83 per cent in London. And the effects are far from over.

From hosting a virtual quiz or coffee morning to selling handmade crafts, cakes or old clothes, we’ve got lots of great virtual fundraising ideas you can try while following the government’s advice on social distancing.

By volunteering just a couple of hours each month fundraising, you can help make 2021 a better year for children. To find out more or to request your fundraising pack, visit